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A City's Death By Fire
(23 January 1930 / Castries / St Lucia)

A City's Death By Fire

Poem By Derek Walcott

After that hot gospeller has levelled all but the churched sky,
I wrote the tale by tallow of a city's death by fire;
Under a candle's eye, that smoked in tears, I
Wanted to tell, in more than wax, of faiths that were snapped like wire.
All day I walked abroad among the rubbled tales,
Shocked at each wall that stood on the street like a liar;
Loud was the bird-rocked sky, and all the clouds were bales
Torn open by looting, and white, in spite of the fire.
By the smoking sea, where Christ walked, I asked, why
Should a man wax tears, when his wooden world fails?
In town, leaves were paper, but the hills were a flock of faiths;
To a boy who walked all day, each leaf was a green breath
Rebuilding a love I thought was dead as nails,
Blessing the death and the baptism by fire.

User Rating: 3,7 / 5 ( 49 votes ) 22

Comments (22)

In town, leaves were paper, but the hills were a flock of faiths; To a boy who walked all day, each leaf was a green breath Rebuilding a love I thought was dead as nails, Blessing the death and the baptism by fire..........poetic brilliant expression; just love it
I see some ambivalence about religion and preachers in 'A City's Death by Fire'. It is like love-hate of 'the hot gospeller'- fire and brimstone which levels everything to the ground. 'Faiths snapped like wire' -that can happen to believers.A different, religious tone in 'By the smoking sea, where Christ walked'. A great poem of contradictions.
" Rebuilding love I thought was dead as nails Blessing the death and the baptism bt fire" Great conceptualization. Well deserved modern poem of the day.
A poem par excellence, sir Derek. Congrats for being selected.....10+++++++++
What a sonnet, welcome to a new voice at PH


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