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29 May 2008updated 17 Mar 2017 2:10pm

Walcott VS Naipaul

Extracts from Derek Walcott's The Mongoose - a searing attack on VS Naipaul at the Calabash

By Derek Walcott

The Nobel Prize-winner Derek Walcott undertook a literary feud with VS Naipaul in verse. Here, we reprint “The Mongoose”.

 

 

So the old mongoose, still making good money

Is a burnt out comic, predictable, unfunny

The joy of supplements, his minstrel act

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Delighting editors endorsing facts

Over fiction, tearing colleagues and betters

To pieces in the name of English letters

The feathers fly, the snow comes drifting down

The mongoose keeps its class act as a clown

It can do cartwheels of exaggeration

Mostly it snivels, proud of being Asian

Of being attached to nothing, race or nation

It would be just as if a corpse took pride in its decay

After its gift had died and off the page its biles exude the stench

of envy, “la pourriture” in French

cursed its first breath for being Trinidadian

then wrote the same piece for the English Guardian

Once he liked humans, how long ago this was

The mongoose wrote “A House for Mr Biswas”.

This is a transcript taken from Derek Walcott’s reading and while we have made every effort to report it accurately, the original may not look like this in terms of layout, punctuation etc.