The Pain of History

Stephen Brook

  • The Star-Apple Kingdom by Derek Walcott
    Cape, 58 pp, £2.50, March 1980, ISBN 0 224 01780 2
  • Selected Poems 1961-1978 by David Holbrook
    Anvil, 143 pp, £5.95, November 1980, ISBN 0 85646 066 4
  • Death Valley and Other Poems in America by Alan Ross
    London Magazine Editions, 92 pp, £3.00, June 1980, ISBN 0 904388 32 8
  • Poems 1955-1980 by Roy Fisher
    Oxford, 193 pp, £7.95, November 1980, ISBN 0 19 211935 4
  • A.R.T.H.U.R. & M.A.R.T.H.A. by Laurence Lerner
    Secker, 69 pp, £2.95, November 1980, ISBN 0 436 24440 3

Derek Walcott is now 50 years old, but there is none of the placidity or mellowing of middle age in The Star-Apple Kingdom. If Naipaul is the great novelist of the colonial experience, Walcott has a claim to be considered the great poet of the same experience. They share an acute sense of belonging to more than one culture and hence to none. The reference in the title poem to the Caribbean’s ‘history-orphaned islands’ is a motto for many other poems in Walcott’s new collection. The book opens with the long dialect poem ‘The Schooner Flight’. The narrator, Shabine, is a Trinidadian ‘red nigger’ sailor-poet who is fiercely conscious of his place, or absence, in history:

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