History Poems - Poems For History

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The Sea Is History - Poem by Derek Walcott

Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs?
Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,
in that gray vault. The sea. The sea
has locked them up. The sea is History.

First, there was the heaving oil,
heavy as chaos;
then, likea light at the end of a tunnel,

the lantern of a caravel,
and that was Genesis.
Then there were the packed cries,
the shit, the moaning:

Exodus.
Bone soldered by coral to bone,
mosaics
mantled by the benediction of the shark's shadow,

that was the Ark of the Covenant.
Then came from the plucked wires
of sunlight on the sea floor

the plangent harp of the Babylonian bondage,
as the white cowries clustered like manacles
on the drowned women,

and those were the ivory bracelets
of the Song of Solomon,
but the ocean kept turning blank pages

looking for History.
Then came the men with eyes heavy as anchors
who sank without tombs,

brigands who barbecued cattle,
leaving their charred ribs like palm leaves on the shore,
then the foaming, rabid maw

of the tidal wave swallowing Port Royal,
and that was Jonah,
but where is your Renaissance?

Sir, it is locked in them sea sands
out there past the reef's moiling shelf,
where the men-o'-war floated down;

strop on these goggles, I'll guide you there myself.
It's all subtle and submarine,
through colonnades of coral,

past the gothic windows of sea fans
to where the crusty grouper, onyx-eyed,
blinks, weighted by its jewels, like a bald queen;

and these groined caves with barnacles
pitted like stone
are our cathedrals,

and the furnace before the hurricanes:
Gomorrah. Bones ground by windmills
into marl and cornmeal,

and that was Lamentations -
that was just Lamentations,
it was not History;

then came, like scum on the river's drying lip,
the brown reeds of villages
mantling and congealing into towns,

and at evening, the midges' choirs,
and above them, the spires
lancing the side of God

as His son set, and that was the New Testament.

Then came the white sisters clapping
to the waves' progress,
and that was Emancipation -

jubilation, O jubilation -
vanishing swiftly
as the sea's lace dries in the sun,

but that was not History,
that was only faith,
and then each rock broke into its own nation;

then came the synod of flies,
then came the secretarial heron,
then came the bullfrog bellowing for a vote,

fireflies with bright ideas
and bats like jetting ambassadors
and the mantis, like khaki police,

and the furred caterpillars of judges
examining each case closely,
and then in the dark ears of ferns

and in the salt chuckle of rocks
with their sea pools, there was the sound
like a rumour without any echo

of History, really beginning.


Comments about The Sea Is History by Derek Walcott

  • Freshman - 529 Points Brian Jani (5/13/2014 12:31:00 PM)

    Derek walcott Amazing poetic skills here (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Rookie - 6 Points Ahmad Shiddiqi (10/9/2008 11:23:00 PM)

    powerful! keep writing! could you read and comment on my poems too? thank you. (Report) Reply

Read all 2 comments »

Poems About History

  1. 1. The Sea Is History , Derek Walcott
  2. 2. Ancient History , Siegfried Sassoon
  3. 3. History , Robert Lowell
  4. 4. Madam's Past History , Langston Hughes
  5. 5. A Worker Reads History , Bertolt Brecht
  6. 6. History Of The Airplane , Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  7. 7. I Don'T Know If History Repeats Itself , Yehuda Amichai
  8. 8. St. Patrick (History History History H.. , Udiah (witness to Yah)
  9. 9. Limerick For St. Patrick's Day 2011 - A .. , Chuck Audette
  10. 10. The History Of Now , David SmithWhite
  11. 11. Limerick: There Was A Young Person Whose.. , Edward Lear
  12. 12. Unfinished History , Archibald MacLeish
  13. 13. Welsh History , Ronald Stuart Thomas
  14. 14. A Summary History Of Lord Clive , William Topaz McGonagall
  15. 15. ' ' ' History Lesson For A Schoolteacher , Dónall Dempsey
  16. 16. Ireland (History History History Histor.. , Udiah (witness to Yah)
  17. 17. History! , Sylvia Chidi
  18. 18. The History Teacher , Atef Ayadi
  19. 19. History Lesson , Steve Turner
  20. 20. Black History Month , Lawrence S. Pertillar
  21. 21. It's The Conquerors Who Write The History , Francis Duggan
  22. 22. Love's History , George MacDonald
  23. 23. The Spider’s Web ( A Natural History) , E.B. White
  24. 24. The Twelve Tribes Of Israel (History Hi.. , Udiah (witness to Yah)
  25. 25. History Teaches Us... , Michael Shepherd
  26. 26. ! ! ! ! A Leaf From History! ! ! ! , Mamta Agarwal
  27. 27. By Those Interested In War History , Francis Duggan
  28. 28. Black History Month , Marilyn Lott
  29. 29. History? , (brief renderings) Joe Fazio
  30. 30. Motor Car History , Joyce Hemsley
  31. 31. A History Of Sorts , Charles M Moore
  32. 32. That Damn Babel (History History Histo.. , Udiah (witness to Yah)
  33. 33. Miss Aywa.....The History Begins When Yo.. , Atef Ayadi
  34. 34. Fable Or History , Victor Marie Hugo
  35. 35. On A Celebrated Event In Ancient History , William Wordsworth
  36. 36. History- A Myth , Rm.Shanmugam Chettiar.
  37. 37. History , Robert Laurence Binyon
  38. 38. Give It To The Lord & The Rest Is History , Luke Easter
  39. 39. The History Of Europe, In And Out , Max Reif
  40. 40. A History Repeats! , Ramesh T A
  41. 41. History , Naveed Akram
  42. 42. The Case History Of The Kiss , Rm.Shanmugam Chettiar.
  43. 43. History Is Made Today , Edward Kofi Louis
  44. 44. Yesterday Was History , Jonathan Goldman a.k.a JGthe ..
  45. 45. Ephraim And Manasseh (History History .. , Udiah (witness to Yah)
  46. 46. A Little History , David Lehman
  47. 47. Steeped In Dark History , Marilyn Lott
  48. 48. Repeating History , Satish Verma
  49. 49. Black History Month (Don Imus, Dr. Laura.. , Luke Easter
  50. 50. Kingsley Place (Personal History, Of No .. , Frank Bana
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