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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