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FAREWELL, SIR DEREK – Burial Takes Place Later Today

Image of the late Nobel Laureate, Sir Derek Walcott

NOBEL Literature Laureate Sir Derek Alton Walcott who died last week Friday at age 87 will be laid to rest today.

Sir Derek will receive a state funeral which begins with his body lying in state in the House of Parliament, with public viewing 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m..

Image of Sir Derek Alton Walcott
Sir Derek Alton Walcott

Following this the body will be escorted by a military parade to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Castries, where the service will begin at 2:00 p.m. During the service the Eulogy will be delivered by Professor Emeritus Edward Baugh and will be followed by a minute of silence in Sir Derek’s honour.

The funeral service will be carried live on the National Television Network and there will be public screening at the Derek Walcott Square for persons who cannot be accommodated in the Basilica.

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Saint Lucians are encouraged to come out to bid farewell to Sir Derek along the parade route, at the Square and to also observe the minute of silence.

Sir Derek will then be laid to rest at Morne Fortune, near the Inniskilling Monument, within close proximity of fellow Laureate, Sir Arthur Lewis.

The Government Information Service will be providing live coverage of the funeral from 2:00 p.m..

The event will also be delivered as follows: Cable TV via the National Television Network; Government of Saint Lucia Web Portal – www.govt.lc/portal-launch; Government of Saint Lucia Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/SaintLuciaGovernment/; Government of Saint Lucia YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQRfHaNeW8o and Audio stream at http://audio.govt.lc/ntn.m3u.

The funeral service will be replayed on the National Television Network on Monday at 8:00 p.m. and repeated on Tuesday at 2:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, the tributes to Sir Derek continue to come in. Among the latest is one from Commonwealth Secretary Patricia Scotland, who said there was something about Sir Derek Walcott’s poetry. The “wind… ruffling the tawny pelt”, the “shards of an ancient pastoral in those shires of the island where the cattle drank their pools of shadow from an older sky”, and “the soft-scissored foam as the deck turn white and the moon open a cloud like a door.”

Scotland said growing up in the UK, there were many occasions when “this powerful imagery transported me, instantly, back to my birth place in the Caribbean, to behold the scenery that must have inspired his words”. And as she defined her own identity Walcott reminded her that “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.”

Scotland added: “I have had the pleasure of meeting Sir Derek in person only once, but his poems have had a lasting impact on me, and I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of this bright Commonwealth star. And though he has slipped beyond our reach, his profound wisdom, his brilliance and his inspiration to pursue greatness are immortalised in the lines of powerful poetry like Omeros, which captured the essence of the Caribbean and stirred hearts and minds across the globe.

“Born in a small Caribbean island, his ingenuity, vision and passion for excellence propelled him into the spotlight on the world stage and earned him the glittering honour of a Nobel Prize.

Again and again I saw Sir Derek fearlessly addressing the issue of Caribbean identity and challenging the stereotypes and skewed perceptions that separate us. He once referred to the earth as “one island in archipelagoes of stars”. So, for me, his greatest legacy is the knowledge that, wherever we are born, in a developed or developing country, in a vast continent or on a small Caribbean island, we have the potential for greatness.

“This is why I would like to join with the government and people of Saint Lucia today to honour their son, and to celebrate his life and the immense contribution he has made to literature. For my country Dominica and Saint Lucia are inextricably linked by history, language, culture, kinship and topography. We are truly sister islands. In many ways Sir Derek always felt as if he belonged a little to all of us. We will really miss his light”.

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