16 pages 32 minutes read

Derek Walcott

Love After Love

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1976

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Cultural Context

Much of Derek Walcott’s work is marked by his background as a West Indian man with a diverse racial and ethnic heritage. Walcott’s work is inspired by his upbringing in Saint Lucia, which is an island country in the West Indies (eastern Caribbean.) Although Saint Lucia was originally home to Indigenous peoples, it was eventually colonized first by the French and then later by the English.

The English and French fought over control of the island for many years, and this colonial warfare is what ultimately led to many of the religious disagreements that Walcott experienced when growing up on the island. France, a Catholic nation, exerted a tight control over the island that led to Saint Lucia becoming predominately Catholic in practice; however, a minority of islanders, including Walcott and his family, were Methodist—a Protestant Christian denomination. In fact, the French even gave the island its name: Saint Lucia, for Saint Lucy of Syracuse.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Saint Lucia was a hub of the slave trade for both France and England. Many of the island’s residents, including Walcott, can trace their lineage back to enslaved African peoples. Although the British Empire abolished slavery in 1834, its fraught history cannot be divorced from the island of Saint Lucia or its people.