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
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.