This week I want to share with you all one of my favorite poems: “Love after Love” by Derek Walcott.
love after love
I first read this poem a few years ago and now make a habit of reading it at least once a month.
At first glance, you might study this poem as a speech to a significant other. This is also something I love about Walcott’s rules: the curious ambiguity. We cannot fully conclude that the narrator is talking about another, or to another, or having a deep dialogue with himself.
Despite all this, we can conclude that “Love after Love” is about you, me and every other being.
“Give your heart back to itself, / to the stranger who has loved you / all your life, whom you have ignored” (8-9). Maybe it’s not about the little bits we try to illustrate every day; to correct every mistake we see in ourselves, to move on, to work harder, to be stronger, to be better…
Instead, it may be about taking off the masks and pretensions of who we think we should be, or become, and just be. Recognize that our existence is enough.
“The time will come / when you will greet yourself with elation / on arrival / at your own door, in your mirror, / and every smile at the welcome of the other” (1-5).
‘Greet yourself with elation and smile at the welcome of the other’ feels like an affirmation of unconditional love. When we stop waiting for certain courses and things to happen, we are elevated to a more satisfying peace that will last.
Through all the chaos and chaos, insecurities and inhibitions, Walcott reminds us that whether we have continuously had an archetypal self, or forged a self from life experience, consciousness at rest with ourselves is intrinsic.
Perhaps the ‘time’ that will come when we must return to ourselves will be much later than expected. But as a revelation it will herald a genuine awakening.
So ‘sit, party of your life.’ Find your way home, and you won’t give up on this love.