This paper will explore the lens of born retrospection for telling history, a lens from lyric history, rather than narrative background, for engaging history and the arc of a life. To begin, this paper will focus on the anchor of born retrospection for redirecting our attention to an assemblage of history, rooted in new light and new speed from selected poems of Derek Walcott.
A contemporary impatience with the heroic model of telling history is beginning to swell, redirecting attention to how under-recognised practices of lyric can contribute to framing history in our times. This paper will query what we continue to understand as 'lyric' or 'history' and, in particular, the intersections of history with individual history. In this paper, I will look especially at poems that explore new and dramatic relationships between speed and light to represent the formation of histories otherwise unseen. These poems include 'Prelude', 'Endings', 'To Return to the Trees', among others.
Walcott’s fascination of creating and staging something from nothing, long studied in poststructuralist, postcolonial and new historicist terms, for example, suggests at the same time a painter’s and poet’s fascination with the 'grey' and the overlooked and quieter frames, those shades caught between light and dark that pace history differently and reposition the need for teleologically driven legacies. This angle of history in his work has been rarely studied.