The ancient sense of sublime, revives in the poem "After the storm" by Derek Walcott.
Something always unreachable by the human reason pervades the poem from the very first line.
There are so many islands!
As many islands as the stars at night
on that branched tree from which meteors are shaken
like falling fruit around the schooner Flight.
It starts with the consideration of the wideness of the sky, the "infinite" number of stars, the number of unknown islands surrounding him in the vastness of the sea.
Then we have the clear perception that the "limited" human being, in this small essence, has just given a meaning to it all. The infinitely small (the man) that has just given a meaning to the infinitely and not definible eternity of sky and sea is what was once considered "the sense of sublime".
Nothing in this poem talks clearly about a storm that has just passed. But the calm and the thoughts of the narrator give an idea of quiet that reminds actually the melancholy of someone who has just faced death, and survived. But he has probably nobody waiting for him, as the sea is his only friend. So the life that he still has, does not gain a big importance and a slight sadness goes through his words to his only companion.
A past happiness is in the mind of the mariner. A lost love, maybe. At least, love is the first thing that bumps into the mind of a reader who knows what losing love means. When you lose a true love even surviving seems to be a poor consolation.
I try to forget what happiness was,
and when that don’t work, I study the stars.
Thinking about the number of the stars, is the first distraction of the poet when he doesn’t want to think about the past and lost happiness. Then he thinks about the islands (so many as the stars at night); where the islands are the lands to discover for the mariner. Like Ulysses he tries to travel to escape his sadness. Travelling to an undefined place is the only way. When no land Is along his route, he just thinks about the stars. The dreams. The "nothing".
And despite of the perception of the infinite, the small essence of the man and his death comes back into his mind.
But things must fall, and so it always was,
on one hand Venus, on the other Mars;
fall,and are one, just as this earth is one
island in archipelagoes of stars.
And sometimes, the aspiration to death to elope from the sorrow and solitude arrives again. It’s like he wishes to have died instead of surviving another storm, following the white way and the light among the clouds. But is this same light among dark clouds that reminds him, he has no choice but living.
Sometimes is just me,and the soft-scissored foam
as the deck turn white and the moon open
a cloud like a door,and the light over me
is a road in white moonlight taking me home.
Shabine sang to you from the depths of the sea.