The Sir Arthur Lewis Community College is saddened by the news of the passing of Sir Derek Alton Walcott, the crumbling of the last column of an epoch of excellence upon which our nation stood. The progress and making of any nation leans upon those sons or daughters who — perhaps transcending what seems possible in that very nation, its very potential— must bear the difficult weight of an entire people’s sense of themselves in the world, their sense of their own possibilities. For decades the mouths of St. Lucians of all walks of life, have been gilded with the Nobel Prize — both Sir. Derek’s winning of it, and the possibility of future accolades.
Sir Derek’s passing is also the passing of one who tried to love his island hard, in an environment and times that made it difficult to love one’s island and to aspire to the world’s standards of excellence. Sir Derek’s entire career was dedicated to being able to love the world, to aspire to its highest standards, and to embrace the love of his island, made difficult by its history and circumstance— a love that manifested most in his tremendous and devoted industry.
The day is wide open with shock and difficult light. The week is wounded at its end. We are comforted by a man who prepared us for the enormity of his death, giving us words for our grief:
“…..a line of gulls has arrowed
into the widening harbour of a town with no noise
its streets growing closer like print you can now read,
two cruise ships, schooners, a tug, ancestral canoes,
as a cloud slowly covers the page and it goes
white again, and the book comes to a close.” (54., White Egrets, Sir Derek Walcott)
The Sir Arthur Lewis Community College mourns with St. Lucia and the world, at the passing of Sir. Derek Alton Walcott.
By Vladimir Lucien on behalf of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College