Derek Walcott

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What is a summary of "As John to Patmos" by Derek Walcott?

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In Derek Walcott's poem “As John to Patmos,” the speaker compares himself to Jesus's apostle John, who was exiled to the island of Patmos. Let's look more closely at how the poem works.

In the first stanza, the speaker begins the comparison. John found peace on the island “among the rocks and the blue, live air.” The speaker has as well. He reflects on the waves and the woods, the bays and the palms.

The second stanza continues the vivid sensory detail about the island. The speaker feels the sun on his face, and it strengthens him. The island welcomes him as Patmos welcome John. The speaker will not leave again; the island is now his home.

In fact, the speaker says in the third stanza that the “island is heaven.” It is far away from the “dustblown blood of cities.” Here he is surrounded by beauty. He can see the sky and hear the wind in the trees. The island's “black children” have found a home here.

In the final stanza, the speaker devotes himself to love, just as John did in Patmos. He swears to love all people and to “praise lovelong” all the living and the dead.

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