Bard of The Island Life

Derek Walcott's Nobel Prize rewards a career spent bringing new subjects and cadences to the English tongue

IN HANDING OUT NOBEL PRIZES IN LITERature, the Swedish Academy is sometimes accused of political correctness, of paying undue attention to geopolitical and ethnic considerations. So in one respect, last week's award to poet Derek Walcott was unsurprising. Of mixed ancestry (African, Dutch, English), Walcott was born 62 years ago on the tiny Windward Island of St. Lucia in what was then the British West Indies. A native Caribbean writer had never before won a Nobel Prize.

But nobody suggested after the announcement was made that Walcott had won * the laurel, worth $1.2 million, on charity. He has long been...

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