PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: to access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
PN Review Prize winners announced
Carcanet Press and PN Review are delighted to announce the winners of the first ever PN Review Prize. read more
Most Read... Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing

(PN Review 236)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott

(PN Review 235)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Kate BinghamPuddle
(PN Review 236)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Gratis Ad 2
Next Issue CELEBRATING JOHN ASHBERY Contributors include Mark Ford, Marina Warner, Jeremy Over, Theophilus Kwek, Sam Riviere, Luke Kennard, Philip Terry,Agnes Lehoczky, Emily Critchley, Oli Hazard and others Miles Champion The Gold Standard Rebecca Watts The Cult of the Noble Amateur Marina Tsvetaeva ‘My desire has the features of a woman’: Two Letters translated by Christopher Whyte Iain Bamforth Black and White

This review is taken from PN Review 196, Volume 37 Number 2, November - December 2010.

THE PULL OF HOME DEREK WALCOTT, White Egrets (Faber) £12.99
DEREK MAHON, An Autumn Wind (The Gallery Press) £10.95

As promised, the Corfu crew put him ashore
at dawn, still dozing, where the sea’s roar
turned in his ears, and so he woke at last
on his own soil.

                                                           (Derek Mahon, ‘Ithaca’)

Poets of place have a difficult time settling. The dust-jacket of Derek Walcott’s The Prodigal (2005) described it as ‘a compelling steer between exile and belonging, Europe and the New World, wanderlust and the inevitable pull of home’, whereas Hugh Haughton, in his study of The Poetry of Derek Mahon (2007), described Mahon as ‘much preoccupied by “home” and travel, exile and return, place and displacement’. Both poets, the one Caribbean, the other Northern Irish, are, in Walcott’s phrase, ‘fortunate travellers’ (‘your luck is that you can always leave’).

Both are also environmentally and culturally sensitive, cosmopolitan, classicist and artistic (Walcott a painter, Mahon fond of ekphrasis). In their poetry they are both highly accomplished masters of poetic forms. Walcott writes lush, frequently self- exploratory verse, while Mahon mixes memory and persona poems with critiques of global issues. Their new books at once celebrate and are preoccupied by loss, personal or ecological.

In Derek Walcott’s White Egrets the eponymous birds appear and reappear throughout the 54-poem sequence. In the title poem they come and go, ‘elegant’, ‘impeccable’, part angel, part mythical. Yeats’ ‘unwearied’ swans are the herons of Walcott’s book, a meditation on what he calls in the title poem, ‘time’s light’. While the ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image