The Islands of Poetry

                                                 “I dislike

The way the ant crawls

In and out of my shadow.” 1


1     What’s in a name?

        I propose to speak to you of islands, exclusively but not literally, as we encounter them in poetry.  For the poet of “Sunday Morning,” the very planet we live on is an “island solitude, unsponsored, free, / Of that wide water inescapable.” 2 The image urges upon us a habit of thought to which poetry is like a “wide water inescapable.”  In it floats, “unsponsored," and “free,” an entire archipelago of ideas, feelings, attitudes, and images, communing with and commuting between what we choose to call our islands.  I hope to show you some of the ways in which, and some of the reasons why, poetry invests such islands with a shared sense of commonty, an archaic but stubborn sense of a common ground in which the difference of individuals and their histories are both preserved and mingled to give us a habitat and a habitude in the idea of community.  To the poet, island and community are both notions entirely comfortable with and especially hospitable to the figural, while also being variously enriched by how they may be grounded in this or that local habitation or name, as for instance, the Caribbean, or Singapore, or New Zealand, — or indeed you or me, if the transference from bodies of rock and earth to just bodies is not too wrenching a turn.

 There can, of course, be no island without water.  And a propos of lakes, Auden once remarked that if it took longer than an afternoon to circumvent a body of water, for instance Lake Michigan or Lake Baikal, he’d rather call it “an estranging Sea."3 As for islands, he found it cosier to think of them as lakes “turned inside out."  What does it mean to the poet then, to be an island?  Or to live on one?  or to go to one?  Or to leave one?  Or to return to one?  and especially to have been turned inside out by one?  In brief, what does it mean to mean island?  “What’s there in a name, / You may well ask, fellow traveller” says “Alphonso at Tea.” 4 The answer, of course, is: everything.  It makes a world of difference between whether we take, for example, Atlantis as the name for a continent, even if floating and lost, or whether we take it for an island, lost and found.  Imagine the lake turned inside out to give us Australia, and you’d have to have the Pacific; contrariwise, imagine the island of Elba turned inside out, and you might conjure up a ghost for Napoleon!

 Let me turn then to some of the ways in which thinking about pieces of rock surrounded by water in precisely this or that way makes the difference between islands encountered in geography, or even history, and those inhabited by poems.  These are “imaginary gardens,” as Marianne Moore reminds us (although she could just as well have said “imaginary islands”), but always with “real toads” in them.5

 ii.     Robin Crusoe as an island

         I begin with the belief that the difference naming makes to whatever is named is also the difference poetry makes to the whole host of ideas that is islands.  Just so, the notion island refracts and colours profoundly what we mean by community.  One way of illustrating this collocation is to conduct a quick roll call of the community of Robinson Crusoes that the literary imagination peoples islands with.  In other words, one way of naming an island is to know it as the castaway does, who is a type of the self not only undone by an island, but someone learning to regard himself as one.

          Castaways refract the idea of community across a whole world of difference as it gets shattered by the Scylla of chance or the Charybdis of contingency.  Consider the entirely different value signified by islands to a certain Alexander Selkirk who got stranded on one for four years and four months, and to Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe who could leave his island only after “four and twenty years, two months and 19 days,”6 and to J.M. Coetzee’s Mr. Cruso, who would rather die than leave “losing himself in the contemplation of the wastes of water and sky” on his island, 7 and to yet another “Crusoe in England,” as imagined by Elizabeth Bishop.

        This bored old creature finds, on getting back to England, that he has only exchanged one island for another, and made himself poorer in the bargain.  (Something about this morose islander will not fail to remind us of yet another difficult homecoming, in which a transformed Lemuel Gulliver is compelled “to behold my figure often in a glass, and thus, if possible, habituate myself, by time, to tolerate the sight of a human creature.”8)  Thus, islands do make converts of the castaway, but to the oddest faiths and failings.  As Walcott remarks in “Crusoe’s Island,” “men fail / According to their creed.” 9 Elizabeth Bishop’s Crusoe too makes a kind of faith from his failing.  It takes the form of a most eloquent amnesia, which is displaced, in a curious manner, onto his books:

The books

I’d read were full of blanks;

the poems — well, I tried

reciting to my iris-beds,

“They flash upon that inward eye,

which is the bliss...”  The bliss of what?

One of the first things that I did

when I got back was look it up.10

         What the island induces in Crusoe’s books could be called a protective erasure, a willed and temporary forgetting.  Remember the many erasures and forgettings indulged in by Prospero’s books whilst on Caliban’s island?  Certain emotions and ideas had better not be named or recollected at all except when safely distanced from the memory of the islands which serve as their occasion.  So much for Wordsworth and his “bliss of solitude.”  So much too for the function of an island as a talisman against itself.  The passing irony of this particular Crusoe’s “blank spots” is nothing compared to the bitterness of finding on his return to England that “The living soul has dribbled away” from all the simple objects which had once, in his island solitude, “reeked of meaning:” “the flute, the knife, the shrivelled shoes / my shedding goatskin trousers... / the parasol...”  “And Friday, my dear Friday,” who “died of measles/ seventeen years ago come March.”

         That is the sum of the difference made to the idea of community, to every one of the figurative islands of the self denied by Donne’s Devotions.11 The figure of the castaway is obliged to cast what spell he can on all the alphabets of his text, as constituted by the few objects and memories he is left with, and the actual island he is left on.  That is one way to salvage a sense of self and of community in a condition of diminution.  The other way, as illustrated by Bishop’s Crusoe, is to will a forgetting in which the force of the diminution will not be allowed to become real by not being given a name.  Both kinds of difference are harmonized by the figure of prosopopoeia, “the ascription of a name or a face or a voice to the absent, the inanimate or the dead.”  And it is as a form of invocation, as a calling up and a calling forth of meaning and significance that prosopopoeia maps the self, with islands and communities as the two axes against which the locus of the moving self is plotted.  Without its magic the poet as islander searching for “Origins” will worry like Walcott that

         These islands have drifted from anchorage

Like gommiers loosened from Guinea,

far from the childhood of rivers.13

 In such straits,

         The mind, among sea-wrack, sees its mythopoeic coast,

Seeks, like the polyp, to take root in itself.

 A poem by Brathwaite begins and ends with the identical image of the polyp:

         A yellow mote of sand dreams in the polyp’s eye....

         my yellow pain swims into the polyp’s eye.14

The polyp in these poems is an emblem for the mind as it ruminates over an idea, like grit in an oyster.  This germinating idea is none other than that of an island becoming aware of itself.  It is also the idea of the self discovering itself as an island.  For such islanders, the literal island is simply the pretext for a text naming itself, as in invocation or exorcism.  It is also the recognition of a need, as in a prayer.  For instance, in this poem from Australia, an island is simply the point of vantage from which to take stock of the self, after which our Prospero of the self may be allowed to drown (and the island revert, presumably, to its congenial spirit, Caliban):

        Before we break the staff,

and sink into the sea,

here by the southern ocean

I pray for you

on your island.

                             pray for me.15

iii.    The islander as poet

        Therefore, what all our Crusoes tell us is that islands are a good way of thinking one’s way through a sense of dispossession, through the sense of loss at being made into “a community of one.”  16 Walcott, in “Crusoe’s Journal,” notes that

                           the hermetic skill that from earth’s clays

shapes something without use,

and, separate from itself, lives somewhere else,


never surrenders wholly, for it knows

it needs another’s praise

like hoar, half-cracked Ben Gunn, until it cries

at last, “0 happy desert!”

and learns again the self-creating peace

of islands.17

The castaway undergoes separation and isolation as a kind of death and then as a possible birth or rebirth.  Poetry’s name for this figure of stepping into life within a constricted and then redefined boundary is exile.  You can also recognize it as migration.  Likewise, the writer’s condition is often one of exile or migration because that is when you cannot take your self or your relation to other selves for granted.  So islands are a good natural habitat for exiles and immigrants, the unwilling and the Willy-nilly.  In the confining boundaries of an island, a self cannot escape easily nor shed the obligation to confront, recognize, and name itself.  The island Adam begins the task of naming with himself.  As “Caliban upon Setebos” remarks:

There is the sport: discover or die!

All need not die, for of the things o’ the isle

Some flee afar, some dive, some run up trees;

Those at his mercy, — why, they never please Him most

When ... when ... well, never try the same way twice! 18

         This suggests a multiple equation: the self as castaway, island, exile, or immigrant is also a poet.  The poet spells out what it means to be on an island of the self.  He also casts spells to conjure up alternatives to the self as an island, redefining the boundaries of islands and of the self in terms of an archipelago or as concealed and submerged jointure through the visible geography of isthmus, promontory, and peninsula to the invisible commonalty that is the human mainland.  “The Map” of Elizabeth Bishop’s very human geography treats it subjectively, as a question:  “does the land lean down to lift the sea from under, / drawing it unperturbed around itself?” 19  Islanders are poets in the sense that they are continually bound to the task of sustaining the fabrication that is their island, while also continually fabricating bridgeheads across this island. On the mainland, these tasks are either forgotten or taken for granted or undertaken as in a dream, involuntarily.  “In dreams begins responsibilities,” as Yeats once said, and our islander is one who dreams while awake, with his eyes open.20 To the Sri Lankan poet for whom his island is, in a very literal sense, “A Country at War," “when we sleep we find night dangerous, / the dream turns out to be real.”21

         The poet as dreamer makes two kind of fictions, depending on the role performed by islands in them.  The dreamer either searches for the island of his desire and then abides on it, as a Lotus‑eater, or one of Circe’s tourist swine; or simply finds himself trapped on one, like the thief in a poem by Robert Graves, who is confined to the galleys of causes not his own, and now has to steal a reason for living from life itself.22 This kind of dreamer appears to have little real choice between living in and leaving an island confinement.  For him the island is a place “In which it seemed always afternoon.”  The other kind desperately needs to escape, a situation calling for Daedalan skills, and a firm unwillingness to “Let what is broken so remain.”23 In the absence of such skills, there is the Ostrich-option of introversion: N ways of making oneself comfortable in confinement.  This may be exemplified in a “Waiting for the Barbarians” poem from Sri Lanka, which takes the form of an apologia.  It is also an updated recollection or universalization of how Archimedes encountered death on his island home of Sicily.  Amidst the embattled solitude of an island laid siege to by itself, the poet cultivates the retrenchment of living within the sixty‑four squares of the chessboard:

                                     if the chief end

of life at present seems to be to find

an infallible answer to the French Defence

(my opponent’s favourite opening), don’t say

I am escaping.  In a world without sense


one must look for meaning wherever one

can find it — if only, perhaps, for a day

or two.  I know the Roman soldier

in one shape or another — is on the way.24

         This is a way of choosing not to escape.  One of the most poignant renderings of the opposite impulse, the desperate desire to escape an island, is enacted in a poem called “Orpheus’ Dream.”  The narrative of Eurydice’s death, and the failure of Orpheus to get her back from Hades, is the perfect allegory for any significance that, once lost, may not be retrieved, even by the poet.  That is the classical myth, and in it, Hades is like a Prison‑house of the Unrecoverable.  But Edwin Muir (unlike Rilke25) reverses the entire tragic force of the allegory.  His Orpheus must have a happy ending, even if only in a dream.  Do we find this dream a fantasy of wish-fulfilment?  a crazed illusion?  a pathetic delusion?  Or does it have a dream’s power to project the fictions of desire as a truth transmuting the mundane trivia, which our day selves call reality?  The poem sustains a tremulous ambivalence in how it celebrates a Eurydice who does not turn back, because this Orpheus, at least in the dream that is poetry, does not lose faith in their community of two:

         And she was there.  The little boat

Coasting the perilous isles of sleep,

Zones of oblivion and despair,

Stopped, for Eurydice was there.

The foundering skiff could scarcely keep

All that felicity afloat.26

         In Stevens’s “The World as Meditation,” another heroic figure of the imagination reverses the force of reality while trapped on an island of solitariness.  It is Penelope waiting for her Ulysses:

         She has composed, so long, a self with which to welcome him,

Companion to his self for her, which she imagined,

Two in a deep-founded sheltering, friend and dear friend.

To this dreaming figure of faith, the warmth of the morning sun on her pillow is like the presence of her man, as if he had never left:

But was it Ulysses? Or was it only the warmth of the sun

On her pillow?  The thought kept beating in her like her heart.

The two kept beating together.  It was only day.


It was Ulysses and it was not.  Yet they had met,

Friend and dear friend and a planet’s encouragement.

The barbarous strength within her would never fail .27

  This Penelope is another wonderful figure of the islander as poet.

 iv.    Islands as Ithaka

         The islands of poetry are not populated by the involuntary exile or the temporary castaway alone.  It is also in the nature of islands to offer themselves as havens and homes: but before you can live on them, you have to get to them.  So, it is that islands invite journeys.  And the how and the why of getting there is where the self begins all its allegorical voyages of discovery.  Andrew Marvell summed up for Europe, in one of its climactic historical moments, a whole set of motives for travelling to islands.  We might call them the Bermuda complex:

         “What should we do but sing his praise

That led us through the wat’ry maze,

Unto an isle so long unknown,

And yet far kinder than our own?”28

         The figure of a voyage is an obvious and compelling metaphor for knowledge articulated as narrative.  Almost any heuristic of consciousness can be narrativized in terms of a mutually interactive tension between notions like traveller and destination, or community and history, or a people and their destiny.  As a novelist has said, “What is character but the determination of incident?  What is incident but the illustration of character?”29

         Thus all the island-poets who are the vehicle of my allegorical figure can be seen undertaking a representative journey, a plotting of the self in the act of characterizing the voyage that they have made of their fives.  My emblem for this figural way of thinking is Ithaka, a name for a progression in time and understanding figured as a geographical journey.  It is a fable retold by an odd sort of poet who belonged nowhere and everywhere in time and place — a “gentleman in a straw hat, standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe.”30 His name was Cavafy.  But it is also Walcott, or Brathwaite or any other writer for whom the tenor of the allegory is that the true end of voyaging is always other than what you had thought.  Or as the donkey said to itself, it is the carrot made me walk:

         Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you’re destined for.

But don’t hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years,

So, you’re old by the time you reach the island,

wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,

not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you wouldn’t have set out.

She has nothing left to give you now.” 31

 Auden’s Atlantis serves pretty much the same function:

           Unless you are capable

                   Of forgetting completely

About Atlantis, you will

Never finish the journey.32

         These voyages locate a site or a space around which the poetry circles.  And what is encircled is never the mere name of an island.  It is tempting to try and attach labels to this site and to the circling — for instance, the diasporan, or the post-lapsarian.  But what serves much better as a mark of recognition is Cavafy’s Ithaka.  This Ithaka is neither just a point of departure nor of arrival.  It is the name for a state of thinking and feeling, of dreaming and hallucinating, that one is on a journey which has no end beyond making sense of itself In this movement the voyager’s involuntary compulsions can meet his acts of volition, an adventure can become a necessity, an escapade become a stepping forth into one’s self, a need turn into a ritual, and a loss work hard to become a finding.

         The happening or the site marked by such poetry, that towards which, and away from which, and around which, these poetries travel is what I shall call a division or a rift or a rending.  It is this that Walcott’s traveller will have healed if he can return to the Love he started from, which one of his poems celebrates as “The amen of calm waters:”

         The pastures of ports,

The litany of islands,

The rosary of archipelagoes,

Anguilla, Antigua,

Virgin of Guadeloupe,

And stone-white Grenada

Of sunlight and pigeons,

The amen of calm waters ...33

Thus, islands may be named in terms of the water that surrounds them and gives them their shape. As Brathwaite says to the “pure pouring of water” lapping his shores:

         ...  I see you, my wound-

ed gift giver of sea

spoken syllables: words salt on your lips

on my lips ...34

 What is thus acknowledged in invocation (which is also part exorcism and part prophylaxis) is something we might name or recognize as the fear of dispossession, keeping in mind Geoffrey Hill’s treatment of the painful epigram — “You cannot lose what you have never possessed” — with the punning ambiguities of the bitter retort: I can lose what I want.  I want you.”35 Or we might call it repossession, since Hill’s epigram is meant to be turned inside out, and we are meant to understand how it feels to know that you possess something, by how the wanting (or the losing) can hurt, and how want or need or hope can be celebrated in annunciation as much as health or the healing.  So there is the poetry of prolepsis:

         In time images of power,

Our emergent selves,

Will be familiar

As first, the body learns

This other song.36

But there is also the elegiac vision of islands as a coupling of turtles:

        ... islands that coupled as sadly as turtles

engendering islets, as the turtle of Cuba

mounting Jamaica engendered the Caymans, as, behind

the hammerhead turtle of Haiti-San Domingo

trailed the little turtles from Tortuga to Tobago ...37

         For Brathwaite the Caribbean is a scatter of pebbles.  A pebble cannot be cracked; it is not seed which will take root; it can slay giants, but it can never bear children.38 His is the most lacerating vision of an island as a gap or rending.  The reasons have to do with the history and psychology of his island home and people (and I wonder if it is any surprise at all to learn that he has now left them behind for the larger and perhaps even more estranging island of North America).  In “Islands” he says:

Looking through a map

of the Antilles, you see how time

has trapped

its humble servants here.  De-

scendants of the slave do not

lie in the lap

of the more fortunate


But if your eyes

are kinder, you will observe


how they fly higher...39

  In “Negus” he chants:

         It is not

it is not

it is not enough

to be pause, to be hole

to be void, to be silent

to be semicolon, to be semicolony;


fling me the stone

that will confound the void

find me the rage

and I will raze the colony fill me with words

and I will blind your God.40

  And in another poem from the volume devoted to Islands, the reason why his home is mere “stone stripped from stone,” “pebbles,” and “empty shells” is given in terms which find an echo in Walcott writing about the same islands.  That which has been lost may be retrieved, for it can be named:

         For the Word is love

and has been absent from our butterflies.

For the word is peace

and is absent from our streets.41

         Such poetry constantly returns to the figure of the voyager setting forth — for reasons which always look beyond his control — from a state he will go back to, but as to an island transformed.  You might call it the site or name of a myth: the myth of wholeness or togetherness, of belonging to what it might have been like if the division represented by the voyage had never taken place.  This wholeness or sense of belonging is a necessary fiction, because it no longer is, or might never have been, or might never come to be, or is to be discovered only after first being lost, as in the separation represented by the voyage, and in a return like that of Odysseus.  In effect, it is a way of re‑membering the present and predicating a shape for the future.  In so far as it is a fiction which drives the poet to the voyage and to the return, every reason behind what makes its fictive existence possible (and indeed necessary) is a compelling heuristic of a particular kind of poetic consciousness: the movement away from the cognition of the self as an island, which has to be a recognition of how this figuration may be reversed.

 v.     The Man who Loved Islands

         The Orpheus and Eurydice of Edwin Muir’s poem are a community whose union can disband the boundaries of an island seen as the shape of isolation.  When are geographical islands not symbols of solitariness?  Only when part of an archipelago, and when linked to the mainland.  Since togetherness implies a twofold at the very least, you might well ask — together with what or who?  The answers are: together not only as Orpheus with Eurydice, but also as an Odysseus with his family, his island‑kingdom, and his community.  That is to say, as a self with its chosen way of life, or simply as a sense of self that one can live with.  For this figuration, the return to an island, as well as the escape from an island, are both emblems of the amity between the self and its environment.  That is how prosopopoeia gathers islands of meaning into communities of sense.  Walcott’s name for this is “The Man Who Loved Islands,” and one way of singing his Sea-Chanty is the following:

         Anguilla, Adina,

Antigua, Cannelles,

Andreuille, all the l’s,

Voyelles, of the liquid Antilles,

The names tremble like needles

Of anchored frigates,

Yachts tranquil as lilies,

In ports of calm coral...42

         This is a poetry of communion.  But its celebration of stasis represses fictions of departure and arrival.  It is a way of living for which the poet will always be finding new names which repeat the same reason.  In its pursuit and practice, our voyager enacts a supplementary fiction in which he appears or pretends to have finished travelling.  These idylls are indistinguishable from those in which he dreams that he never started off on the journey.  Neither kind of fiction works for long, except to motivate its alter-ego. Together they make a circle of a strip of path which otherwise does not let the end meet its beginning.  So what the poet does is to make a kind of moebius‑strip, a twist by which he has his feet on the ground, or his oar in water, and always moves straight forward, but keeps meeting himself at all the other stages of a journey which, in a sense, he has never undertaken or finished.  So it is that we are told in Walcott’s Omeros:

                                    there are two journeys

in every odyssey, one on worried water,


the other crouched and motionless, without noise.

an actual craft

carries the other to cities where people speak

a different language

but the right journey

is motionless; as the sea moves round an island


that appears to be moving, love moves round the heart —

with encircling salt, and the slowly travelling hand

knows its return to the port from which it must Stan.43

  The port from which the travelling hand of the poet must start and to which it returns is Love, an amity of the soul, the Ithakan motif that we found in Brathwaite’s Islands, and the one circled by all of Walcott’s poetry as if it were a recovered Atlantis.  It is a wonderful truth that declares its necessary and sufficient precondition for the true existence of islands: “islands can only exist / If we have loved in them.”44

         Poets like Walcott and Brathwaite, writing from their specific island locations in place and time, practise variations on an Ithakan voyage to which there are analogues wherever we have islands with a context of plurality and multiplicity, whether of peoples, races or histories.  Walcott’s Ithaka is the result of trying to counter the danger of a myopic view of his island home by placing it in a relation of parallelism and contrast with another island far removed in geography and history, whose very distance places in relief the community of issues that unites the two island situations.  This poetry gathers around him a whole family of assimilations and reanimated memories of this other island whose great difference from his home must help the poet bridge the gap between himself and his present just as it must bridge the gap between the real and the fictive, the contemporaneous and the historical, the local and the perennial.  The gap is a very real one, and it must be acknowledged by hurting, before the poetry can both measure and then bridge the distance between there and here, or then and now.  The memories, figments and fragments that this displacement or double‑vision of the centre generate are never merely sentimental.  Prosopopoeia reckons them consciously in terms of tensions and losses, in terms of the difference that must be subtracted of a world he can never look at, from the one he lives in, before he can see himself stereoscopically in both.  So it is that the blind guide “with a locked marble hand” leads the poet of Omeros, like Virgil before him holding the hand of Dante, through the circles of the hell that is Walcott’s St. Lucia:

        I heard the boiling engines


of steam in its fissures, the deep indignation

of Hephaestus or Ogun grumbling at the sins

of souls who had sold out their race, the ancient forge


of bubbling lead erupted with speculators

whose heads gurgled in the lava of the Malebolge

mumbling deals as they rose.  These were the traitors45


who are brought to account at least in poetry. So it is that the structure of allegory deconstructs itself in the hands of the poet even as he links islands of reference into an archipelago of signification:

         You were never in Troy, and, between two Helens,

yours is here and alive ...

These Helens are different creatures,

one marble, one ebony ....


but each draws an elbow slowly over her face

and offers the gift of her sculptured nakedness,

parting her mouth.  The sanderlings lift with their cries.


And those birds Maud Plunkett stitched into her green silk

with sibylline steadiness were what islands bred:

brown dove, black grackle, herons like ewers of milk,


pinned to a habitat many had adopted.

The lakes of the world have their own diaspora

of birds every winter, but these would not return.


The African swallow, the finch from India

now spoke the white language of a tea-sipping tern,

with the Chinese nightingales on a shantung screen,


with the Persian falcon, whose cry leaves a scar

on the sky till it closes, saw the sand turn green,

the dunes to sea, understudying the man-o’-war,


talking the marine dialect of the Caribbean

with nightjars, finches, and swallows, each origin

enriching the islands to which their cries were sown.46

  1 cannot think of a more apt image than this mixed aviary for how the diaspora of lands as much as that of lakes enriches the islands in which the voyager is then “pinned” or “sown.”  All such islands may be imagined as echoing, each to its community of islanders, what was said by “Caliban to the Audience:”

     we are, we submit, in no position to set anyone free.47

 Or, what was said by Empson regarding flight:

         The heart of standing is you cannot fly.48

 An island, in the end, is no more and no less than the place we stand on, as a place to stand by. It is whatever keeps you from drowning.



1          Wallace Stevens, “Six Significant Landscapes,” Collected Poems (New York: Knopf, 1956), p. 74.

2          Wallace Stevens, “Sunday Morning,” V11, Collected Poems (New York: Knopf, 1956), p. 70

3          W.H. Auden, “Bucolics, IV.  Lakes, V. Islands,” Selected Poems (London: Faber, 1979), pp. 208‑211.

4          Edwin Thumboo, “Alphonso at Tea,” A Third Map (Singapore: Unipress, 1993), p. 120.

5          Marianne Moore, “Poetry,” American Poetry of the Twentieth Century, ed. Richard Gray (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976), p. 74.

6          Cf. “Appendix: Alexander Selkirk,” Robinson Crusoe, ed. Angus Ross (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965), p. 302, & p. 274.

7          J. M. Coetzee, Foe (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986), p. 38.

8          Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Part IV, Chp. XII (London: Dent, 1940), p. 316.

9          Derek Walcott, “Crusoe’s Island,” Collected Poems 1948‑1984 (New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1986), p. 60.

10        Elizabeth Bishop, “Crusoe in England,” Geography III (London: Chatto, 1977), pp. 134.

11         John Donne, Devotions, XVII: No man is an Hand, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine…” Complete Poetry & Selected Prose, ed. John Hayward (London: Nonesuch, 1955), p. 538.

12        J. Hillis Miller, “Prosopopoeia in Hardy and Stevens,” Alternative Hardy, ed. Lance St. John Butler (London: Macmillan, 1989), p. 110

13        Walcott, “Origins,” Collected Poems, pp. 12,14.

14        Edward Brathwaite, “Coral,” The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), pp. 232, 234.

15        Dorothy Hewett, “Island and Forest,” Selected Poems (Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1990), p. 49.

16        A. K. Ramanujan, “The Difference,” Second Sight (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 66.

17        Walcott, “Crusoe’s Journal,” Collected Poems, pp. 93-94.

I8        Robert Browning, “Caliban upon Setebos,” Browning: A Selection, ed. W.E. Williams (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1954), p. 274.

19        Elizabeth Bishop, “The Map,” The Complete Poems (London: Chatto, 1970), p. 3.

20        Yeats’s epigraph from an “Old Play” to Responsibilities (1914), Yeats’s Poems, ed. A. Norman Jeffares (London: Macmillan, 1989), p. 196.

21        Jean Amsanayagam, “A Country at War,” The Penguin New Writing in Sri Lanka, ed. D.C.R.A. Goonetilleke (New Delhi: Penguin,  1992), p. 104.

22        Robert Graves, “Thief,” Collected Poems 1975 (London: Cassell, 1975), p. 53.

23        Alfred Tennyson, “The Lotos‑Eaters,” Poems and Plays (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953), pp. 51, 52.

24        Reggie Siriwardena, “Waiting for the Soldier,” The Penguin New Writing in Sri Lanka, ed. D.C.R.A. Goonetilleke (New Delhi: Penguin, 1992), pp. 106-107.

25        Rainer Maria Rilke, “Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes.,” New Poems, tr. J.B. Leishman (London: Hogarth Press, 1964), pp. 143-147.

26        Edwin Muir, “Orpheus’ Dream,” Collected Poems 1921‑1958 (London: Faber, 1960), p. 216.

27        Stevens, “The World as Meditation,” Collected Poems, p. 521.

28        Andrew Marvell, “Bermudas,” Selected Poetry, ed. Frank Kermode (New York: Signet, 1967), p. 59.

29        Henry James, “The Art of Fiction,” The Critical Muse: Selected Literary Criticism, ed. Roger Gard (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987),  pp. 196-197.

30        The phrase is E. M. Forster’s: Pharos and Pharillon (1923, rpt. New York: Knopf, 1962), p. 96.

31        C.P. Cavafy, “Ithaka,” Collected Poems, tr. Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975),  pp. 35-36.

32        W. Auden, “Atlantis,” Selected Poems, p. 117.

33        Walcott, “A Sea‑Chanty,” Collected Poems, p. 46.

34        Brathwaite, “Dawn,” The Arrivants, p. 238.

35        Geoffrey Hill, “Coplas,” Collected Poems (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985), p. 93.

36        Edwin Thumboo, “Island,” A Third Map, p. 79.

37        Walcott, “The Star‑Apple Kingdom,” Collected Poems, p. 393.

38        Brathwaite, “Pebbles,” The Arrivants, p. 196.

39        Brathwaite, The Arrivants, p. 204.

40        Brathwaite, The Arrivants, p. 224.

41        Brathwaite, “Wake,” The Arrivants, p. 212.

42        Walcott, Collected Poems, p. 44.

43        Derek Walcott, Omeros (London/Boston: Faber, 1990), p. 291.

44        Walcott, Collected Poems, p. 52.

45        Walcott, Omeros, p. 289.

46        Walcott, Omeros, pp. 313-314.

47        W. H. Auden, “Caliban to the Audience,” from “The Sea and the Mirror,” Selected Poems, p. 149.

48        William Empson, “Aubade,” Poetry of the Thirties, ed. Robin Skelton (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964), p. 195.