Love After Love by Derek Walcott

Love after Love

Derek Walcott was born in St.Lucia in the West Indies in 1930. His father was English and his mother was African. He has written poems, plays and is a painter.

The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the other’s welcome, And say sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine, give bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you
All your life, whom you ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love-letters from the bookshelf
The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your own images from the mirror.
Sit, feast on your life.

Analysis of “Love after love”

It is about finding happiness on your own after the end of a relationship.

Lines 1-5: The poet says confidently that after splitting with someone, you will return to your own identity and you will be happy about it (with elation)
Lines 6-11. Line 6 suggests returning to someone or something you abandoned. He says you should get to know your “self” again, as you know yourself better than any other person (line 11).

Lines 12-15. He suggests removing all the signs of the previous relationship, like photos and stuff. The last line links the theme of eating to the idea that there is so much in life to look forward to and celebrate.

03 Types of Languages Used

The repetition of ‘will’ twice in the first stanza is meant to reinforce the speaker’s confidence and assurance. Note that the poet did not use ‘maybe’ or ‘possibly’, but he is positive that these things will happen.

Ceremonial language: Be aware of religious references (line 8) since giving wine and bread have a Christian connection as if the poets are suggesting a spiritual process that marks the a new start in life.

References to the ‘self’: The ‘self’ is more than just an identity. It is a person within you. The message of the poem is that you have neglected this self when you loved another person. However, after splitting up with him, you should get to know him again. There is the suggestion in line 11 that nobody could ever know you as deeply and thoroughly as yourself does. The word ‘peel’ in line 14 suggests removing the false outer layers to reveal the true inner self.

Feelings and Attitude

He is positive and optimistic since he thinks it is good to have time to get to know yourself better. He is confident that what he is suggesting is a piece of good advice. The only negativity in the poem comes from references to ‘desperate notes’ (line 14) or previous relationship with other people.

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