In her essay on directing self-love, Sharon Salzberg wrote: “Loving ourselves opens us to truly knowing ourselves as part of a matrix of existence, inextricably connected to the boundlessness of life.” This same invitation to intimacy and love towards ourselves is put forward by Derek Walcott in his gentle poem, Love After Love. Encountering ourselves sometimes can be like meeting a stranger for the first time – in the rush of the activity of life and being in relationship with others, we can lose sight of the most important and most intimate experience of selfhood. Derek Walcott imagines a moment of homecoming, of sitting with oneself, breaking bread and feasting on the joy of one’s life.
LOVE AFTER LOVE
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Derek Walcott (1930-2017)
From: The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013