Po-Chop: Derek Walcott: Origins

“Beetles lift the dead elephant into the jaws of the forest.”

 

This line from Derek Walcott’s poem “Origins” creates a powerful metaphor for the cycle of life and specifically the process of decay. The “jaws of the forest” are the mouthparts of the beetles. As they consume dead organic matter, such as an elephant carcass, the beetles reincorporate it into the life cycle. Walcott employs his skill with syntax and metaphor to create an even more dramatic, surreal image of a horde of tiny beetles working together to feed massive, gaping jaws. The latter image evokes a scene of tribal sacrifice to a powerful god, a god whom we will all feed in time.

 

More Derek Walcott:

Find his work on Amazon.

Find his work on Powell’s.

Walcott at the Poetry Foundation.

 


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