Sea Canes

Half my friends are dead.

I will make you new ones, said earth.
No, give me them back, as they were, instead
with faults and all, I cried.

Tonight I can snatch their talk
from the faint surf's drone
through the canes, but I cannot walk

on the moonlit leaves of ocean
down that white road alone,
or float with the dreaming motion

of owls leaving earth's load.
O earth, the number of friends you keep
exceeds those left to be loved.

The sea canes by the cliff flash green and silver;
they were the seraph lances of my faith,
but out of what is lost grows something stronger

that has the rational radiance of stone,
enduring moonlight, further than despair,
strong as the wind, that through dividing canes

brings those we love before us, as they were,
with faults and all, not nobler, just there.

from Selected Poems (Faber & Faber, 2007), copyright © Derek Walcott 2007, used by permission of the author

Sponsor this poem

Would you like to sponsor this poem? Find out how here.


Buy album £0.00


2A Far Cry from Africa

3Ruins of a Great House

4A Letter from Brooklyn

5The Castaway



8from Another Life

9Sea Grapes

10Saint Lucie

12Sea Canes

12from The Schooner Flight

13The Sea is History

14The Saddhu of Souva

15Forest of Europe

16The Season of Phantasmal Peace

17from Omeros

Books by Derek Walcott