The Fortunate Traveller

by daanishali

Daanish Ali

Derek Walcott’s one Angry Dude


For the better part of my life the ideas of traveling came with mysticism and sense of adventure that only an ‘Indiana Jones’ movie could replicate. Unfortunately, Derek Walcott crushed those feelings for eternity. A narrative poem of a self conflicted bureaucrat the ‘Fortunate Traveler’, is one of many Walcott poems that question the tragic absence of empathy the west obtains for the remainder of the world. Walcott attacks the reader with words like:  “We are roaches…we infect optimism…radiating separately back to Geneva, Bonn, Washington, London.” Walcott quickly distinguishes himself from populous writer to social commentator.

Reading the ‘Fortunate Traveler’ is not a journey to optimism, but to reality. Far from a haiku, this longer poem is flooded with underlying themes and criticisms towards Christianity’s blind authority over righteousness. “Think of a God who doesn’t lose sleep… His indifference, I write now, not Anno Domini: After Dachau.” Although the poem is not comforting, it can be satisfying. Satisfying for those whose thirst could only be quenched with a brew of authenticity: “Now I have come to where the phantoms live, I have no fear of phantoms, but of the real.”

Walcott’s ‘Fortunate Traveler’ is an excellent read for anyone who considers the world less then generous. Filled with historical references and raw imagery, the reader is taken through time on a journey to present day conditions. Although the poem was written in 1981 it is as relevant today as it was then. And thus the reader has the opportunity to see the world through Walcott’s eyes, as long as they can embrace the “portholes and vision blurs”.


One Comment to “The Fortunate Traveller”

  1. I enjoyed your catchy title. However, I disagree that Walcott is an angry dude. Reflective, depressing, a teacher of the ignorant, sad of the injustice of the world perhaps? I also think that his work is for more than those who see the world as being less generous. I think Walcott’s aim is to give the world a kick in the ass….. hey, maybe your right, maybe he is angry!

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