"He sees the full moon in daylight"

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For Sigrid
by Derek Walcott


For Sigrid from ‘The Bounty’ 

The sea should have settled him, but its noise is no help.
I am talking about a man whose doors invite a sail 
to cross a kitchen-sill at sunrise, to whom the reek of kelp 
drying in the sunlit wind on the chattering shoal
or the veils of a drizzle hazing a narrow cave
are a phantom passion; who hears in the feathering lances
of grass a soundless siege, who, when a bird skips a wave,
feels an arrow shoot from his heart and his wrist dances.
He sees the full moon in daylight, the sky’s waning rose,
the gray wind, his nurse trawling her shawl of white lace;
whose wounds were sprinkled with salt but who turns over their horrors
with each crinkling carapace. I am talking about small odysseys
that, with the rhythm of a galley, launch his waking house 
in the thinning indigo hour, as he mutters thanks over
the answer of a freckled, forgiving back in creased linen,
its salt neck and damp hair, and, rising from cover, 
to the soundless pad of a leopard or a mewing kitten,
unscrews the coffee-jar and measures two and a half spoons, 
and pauses, paralyzed by a sail crossing blue windows,
then dresses in the half-dark, dawn-drawn by the full moon’s 
magnet, until her light-heaving back is a widow’s.
She drags the tides and she hauls the heart by hawsers
stronger than any devotion, and she creates monsters
that have pulled god-settled heroes from their houses
and shawled women watching the fading of the stars.

by Derek Walcott

"For Sigrid" from THE BOUNTY by Derek Walcott. Copyright © 1997 by Derek Walcott. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. us.macmillan.com/fsg


Poem as Friend to Mark

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For Sigrid (from 'The Bounty')by Derek Walcott

In this episode of the podcast, you will hear Mark talking about the poem that has been a friend to him: ’For Sigrid' by Derek Walcott.


Mark visited The Poetry Exchange at The Chapel in St Chad's College as part of Durham Book Festival in October 2015. We’re very grateful to Durham Book Festival, New Writing North and St Chad’s College for hosting The Poetry Exchange.


Thank you also to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for kindly granting permission for us to use this poem. Do visit them for further inspiration and to find out more about Derek and his work:


Mark is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Fiona Lesley Bennett and Michael Schaeffer.


'For Sigrid' is read by Michael Schaeffer.


We talk to people about the poem that has been a friend to them.

In exchange we create a gift for them, a bespoke reading of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation. Our award-winning podcast shares these unique and powerful stories of connection with people across the world. 


We set up an intimate environment for these conversations at festivals, in arts, cultural and public spaces across the country. We also hold exchanges ‘long distance’. Our visitors come from all walks of life and we also feature well-known personalities such as Andrew Scott, Maxine Peake, Roy McFarlane and Paterson Joseph.