PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — It is with a very heavy heart that I received the news of the passing of Sir Derek Alton Walcott, KCSL OBE OCC, winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature early Friday morning, March 17, 2017, at his home near Gros Islet in St. Lucia at 87.
Sir Derek was not only a genial St. Lucian poet, in his own words, he was “primarily, absolutely, a Caribbean poet.” He embodied the Caribbean ethos, and carried in his blood that essential Caribbean make up that made him sing:
“I had a sound colonial education
I have Dutch, nigger and English in me,
and either I’m nobody, or I’m a nation.”
The “Dutch” in him came by way of St. Maarten, his grandfather having been a Dutch administrator here. We were honored to welcome him back “home” when he was guest of honor at the annual St. Martin Book Fair in 2011.
St. Maarten, therefore, shares in your loss in a very special and intimate way. Sir Derek Walcott was family; he was a son of this soil, too, the embodiment of the Caribbean nation we all aspire to build.
On behalf of the government and people of St. Maarten, I extend to you, Honorable Prime Minister Allen M. Chastanet, your government and the people of St. Lucia, our deepest sympathies for this great loss.
May you find strength and comfort in the fact that he has left us his luminous, immortal works, a legacy that will continue to shine forever.
May his soul rest in eternal peace.