Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
17 March 2017

“In a Green Night” by Derek Walcott (1930-2017)

From the New Statesman, 10 September 1960.

By New Statesman

The Nobel laureate poet Derek Walcott has died, aged 87. Walcott was born in Saint Lucia, in the West Indies, in 1930, to a painter father (who died when Derek was one) and a headmistress mother. As a young man he pursued both painting and writing, and published his first poetry collection in 1948, while still in his teens.

He studied English literature, French and Latin at University College of the West Indies in Jamaica and in 1953 moved to Trinidad, where he worked as a theatre and art critic. Having already written several plays, in 1959 he founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop. Walcott’s breakthrough as a poet came with his 1962 collection In a Green Night: Poems 1948–1960.

His early poetry, such as “In a Green Night”, (see the clipping from the New Statesman archive, below), with its references to Andrew Marvell’s “Bermudas”, was influenced by English metaphysical poets and the classics, but later in his career he began to embrace Caribbean tradition and dialect – as seen in his Homeric epic Omeros (1990). On awarding Walcott the Nobel prize in 1992, the Swedish Academy cited his “poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment”.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
Is your business ready for corporate climate reporting?
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK