Derek Walcott's Eulogy for Elizabeth Hardwick

Derek WalcottDerek Walcott's prodigious gifts, even in the face of tragedy, continue to amaze me. When Elizabeth Hardwick, one of America's preeminent writers, passed away during last year's Christmas holidays, Walcott wrote a moving eulogy. Hardwick, according to Bruce King's Derek Walcott: A Caribbean Life, first met Walcott when she and her former husband, Robert Lowell, "stopped in Trinidad during June 1962 on their way to Brazil under the auspices of the Congress for Cultural Freedom" (188). They became lifelong friends.

Here is an excerpt of the letter to
The New York Review of Books "sent by Derek Walcott from his home in St. Lucia and read by Hilton Als at a memorial service in New York City on December 16, 2007, for Elizabeth Hardwick, co-founder and advisory editor of The New York Review since 1963 and contributor of more than one hundred reviews, articles, reflections, and letters to these pages."

Distance requires formality, but I cannot be distant writing about Lizzie Hardwick since everything has come alarmingly closer—the curls, the infectious chuckles, the drawl like poured-out honey, the privilege of sharing her astute delight, and the benign devastations of her wit. Because she hated pomposity she was more fun than any American writer I have known. She preferred gaiety to malice and had the laugh to go with it. Memories of her rise like butterflies from a bush, all darting, elate, and light; the use of three adjectives is the signature of her style, perhaps because of the precise languor of her Kentucky accent.

To read the entire statement, please follow this link: New York Review of Books.


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Esteban Agosto Reid said…
An extremely profound eulogy by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott!!RESPECT!!
Marlon James said…
For all his flaws the man is simply one beautiful stringer of words.
He certainly is, Marlon. He certainly is.
Stephen Bess said…
I have a book of essays by Walcott that I need to pick up and read. The man has command of every letter in the alphabet.

Hello brother Geoffrey. I've started a new job. It has me very busy, but I think I'm going to be happy there. Peace~
Hello, Stephen!

Happiness is what counts. May we all be bodhisattvas one day.

Leon said…
Beautifully written. That eulogy could be the start of a novel.
Rent Party said…
Very good. Thanks for posting it, I'd missed it.

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