Fiona Sampson at The Guardian:
At more than 600 pages, this new selection from 15 collections over 65 years ofDerek Walcott's poetry is clearly no taster. But then Walcott is a generous writer in every sense. The expansive, celebratory texture of his verse is instantly recognisable. It moves with ease between city and country, between “the snow still falling in white words on Eighth Street” and the way “Sunshine […] stirs the splayed shadows of the hills like moths”.
This vivid engagement with the sensory world doesn't desert Walcott even in elegy, of which the later books include an increasing amount. In “For Oliver Jackman”, in White Egrets: “They're practising calypsos, / they're putting up and pulling down tents, vendors are slicing / the heads of coconuts around the Savannah, men /are leaning on, then leaping into pirogues.” Poets have long pointed out that life continues in the face of death: WH Auden in “Musée des Beaux Arts” among them. But few capture that life in such full and affirming detail.
Much of this detail draws on the landscape and life of Walcott's native St Lucia.