Poem for Pentecost

“Pentecost” by Derek Walcott

Better a jungle in the head

than rootless concrete.

Better to stand bewildered

by the fireflies’ crooked street;


winter lamps do not show

where the sidewalk is lost,

nor can these tongues of snow

speak for the Holy Ghost;

the self-increasing silence

of words dropped from a roof

points along iron railings,

direction, in not proof.


But best is this night surf

with slow scriptures of sand,

that sends, not quite a seraph,

but a late cormorant,


whose fading cry propels

through phosphorescent shoal

what, in my childhood gospels,

used to be called the Soul.

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