Love after Love by Derek Walcott is a reflection on spiritual awakening. This is the awakening to Love as being who you are rather than a problem to be solved by finding someone to love. Once you had been graced this Love after love experience then you really do get to feast on your one wild and precious life. You move into living in communion with the True Self.

Love After Love Poem Menu

This poem forms part of the intended 365 days of daily reflections that include mystical poetry, mythological storytelling, inspirational song lyrics and more.

A number of these daily reflections appear on this website. Most of these 365 reflections will be made available only to those who are a member of the Yoga Journey for Life Community. So if you are interested in learning to experience Love after Love then why not commune with other likeminded people.

Love After Love Poem

love after love poem derek walcott

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Love After Love

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.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

Themes of Love After Love Poem

love after love poem meaning

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The themes of the poem are those that speak to me personally. Whether or not these are the themes intended by the poet I cannot say. What matters is how the invitation from the poem speaks to you and not how others interpret it for you.

An important aspect of how you connect with this poem will be the Stage of Life that you are travelling through and the degree to which you have been disappointed by love relationships on a personal level.

This poem, for this writer, a 2nd Half of Life poem.

It is where you are questing about your relationship to life and love.

You are asking existential questions. You want to KNOW why you are and who you are. You are looking for meaning and purpose beyond a life dedicated to power, self-interest and never-ending things to do.

Exploring the Title

exploring love after love poem

Photo by Pixabay from from

The title of the poem by Derek Walcott is Love after Love. There is “Love” and there is “After Love.”

The first love is the love we all hopefully experience within the 1st Half of life. This is the love referred to as, “after love.”

This is the kind of love that is the focus of romantic movies such as Jerry McGuire (1996) where the lead man (Tom Cruise) says to the lead woman (Renée Zellweger.) “You complete me.”

The Before Love After Love Experience

I loved this movie.

The Love (capital L) after love (Small l) is experienced within process of Spiritual Awakening. This Love is referred to as Agape. (For more invitations to different levels of love and Love you might be interested in reading 7 Levels of Love)

This experience that Derek Walcott refers to as Love after Love is not something that you can achieve. You cannot achieve it because it is, in reality, who you are. It can only be revealed. That revelation always comes by way of Grace.

However, you can begin the journey into preparing the holy ground for such a revelation that will transform your life and your sense of your personal self.

Love After Love – Stanza 1

love after love opening stanza

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

I will take each of the three stanzas from this beautiful poem and explore the invitation from each line.

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.

Love After Love – 1st Stanza Menu

The Time Will Come when With Elation

love after love 1st stanza

Lamp of Nostalga

Image by Lukas Baumert from Pixabay

The poet must have had a direct KNOWING of the Love that they are. Otherwise they could never be so bold as to make you a promise as glorious as that promised in this poem.

The time will come with elation.

This is no little promise. However, it is the promise given by someone who KNOWS Love after love.

This time is assured.

There is a paradox in this promise. This is indicated by the word ‘elation.’ You will only really ever experience elation when you set outside of time into the direct KNOWING of eternity.

Don’t try and think about this.

It would be like trying to bite your own teeth. When you become the KNOWER of Love after Love elation is what you KNOW. This is not intellectual information. It is heart KNOWING.

You Will Greet Yourself

arriving at your own front door

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay

On your life’s journey you will greet yourself at places of threshold. This is represented by the phrase, “your own front door.”

Do not take this literally.

It is more representative of meeting at the door of the heart. The key intimation here is that the door of the heart has to be open before you might receive the grace experience of Love after Love.

Why are you knocking at every other door? Knock at the door of your heart – Rumi.

You will also meet again in the mirror.

This is the practice of self-reflection. It is not the practice of putting on eye makeup. It is the practice of inner seeing by way of meditation/contemplation or prayer.

By prayer, I do not mean the practice of speaking to a God you think is outside yourself and who you petition for favours.

These practices are the traditional way of opening the heart to the direct experience of meeting with the one who has loved you all your life.

And in the Mirror

arriving at your own front door

Peel Your Image from the Mirror

Photo by Andre Mouton on Unsplash

The Yourself that the poet is writing about here is what the modern Christian mystic Thomas Merton refers to as The True Self.

This is distinct from the personal self, the “I, me and mine,” that we are all heavily identified with and which is the primary cause of suffering both individually and collectively on this planet.

This is the Authentic Self beyond the never-ending voice in your head that creates the sense of the personal self.

In this experience of elation that is Love after Love there is a meeting in Oneness. This meeting happens on various levels. These include:-

  • The personal with the Universal.
  • Time with the Timeless.
  • Love (with a small l) with Love (with a capital L)

This meeting with yourself is a direct experience of unity.

Sit Here, Eat

come sit and eat

Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash

This meeting is a welcoming home. It is where you as the Prodigal Son or Daughter return home and you are celebrated. The return home is to the direct experience of Oneness rather than separateness.

This is not the celebration of fame and fortune. It is the celebration of the truth of who you are created to be. It is you coming home to the KNOWING of your true Self.

You get to sit a while. You rest from the struggle of the dodo of your life. You get to be nourished in a way that invites welcome. You come to the well of Being. You drink of the water of Life.

In order to invite the Love After Love experience it is necessary that you engage in daily Self nourishment.

This is where you sit and become fluent in silence and allowing the Y-E-S of who you are to feed you.

Love After Love – 2nd Stanza

love after love 2nd stanza

2nd Stanza Reflections

This 2nd stanza really gets into reminding you about the power, beauty and grace of meeting again the Truth of who you are and the connection you are here to feel and express from.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.

Love After Love – 2st Stanza Menu

You Will Love Again the Stranger who was Yourself

the stranger who has loved you all your life

Photo by Dewang Gupta on Unsplash

Given all the disappointment with love here is the glorious promise that you will Love again. Do not imagine that this represents something like meeting with your soulmate (although this can happen as a consequence)

Just to say that you are unlikely to meet with your soulmate if one of you has not had a direct revelation of soul (Source Of Unconditional Love).

In essence the Stranger is your Essential Self. You are estranged from yourself. You can tell this because you are not elated to be alive. You can tell because you are not in celebration of who you are and who you are created to be.

The blessing invited in this poem is the promise that the time will come when you are no longer so estranged.

Give Wine Give Bread

reflections on the poem love after love by derek walcott

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Notice that the invitation here is to “give.” This is what happens when you are living from the Authentic Self. Wine and bread are symbols of communion. This is communion not merely as ritual but as an experience of Being in Love.

This is real celebration rather than celebrity.

With the direct experience of communion with the Authentic self you are quite literally giving back your heart to yourself. You feel whole-hearted. You feel authentically you.

This is great cause for celebration.

Give Your Heart Back to Itself

give back your heart to itself -derek walcott

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

The 1st Step in “Giving Back Your Heart to Itself” is to intend to do so.

This means that you make loving your life a priority. This is NOT a LUKEWARM endeavour. It takes courage to be the REAL YOU. The word courage derives from the root of the French word “cour” meaning “To enter the heart.”

This requires the three essentials of practicing any art. These essentials as shared in The Art of Loving by the German psychologist Eric Fromm include:-

  1. Commitment.
  2. Discipline.
  3. Patience.

The 2nd step is to intentionally move your identity from the Voice in the Head to what Rumi calls The Heart House.

Come inside of the heart’s house. There is peace and solace there. -Rumi

This is what I call the longest and shortest journey. It really is a long commitment because it is the Essence of Life and Love’s Purpose.

To the Stranger who Has Loved You All Your Life

love again the stranger

Photo by Andre Furtado from Pexels

The stranger who has Loved you all your life is not a person. It isn’t even you. It is the Life that created you in order to express through you.

Life creates forms for the Love of expressing through form.

You are not separate from this expression although you feel you are because you live from the image in the mirror – the egoic self.

Love is when the soul starts to sing and the flowers of your life bloom on their own.- Rabindranath Tagore

Most of us think there is life and there is us living life. There is the experience and there is the experiencer. Only when you live from the Authentic Self will you KNOW and FEEL that Life and you are the experience.

Whom You Ignored for Another

whom you ignored for another

Photo by Pixabay from from

This ‘another’ is the separate sense of ego that we call “I, me and mine.” It is the voice in your head that creates this separate sense of the personal self.

This makes us ignorant (to gnore) the reality of who we truly are.

Living is easy with eyes closed. John Lennon

Listening to the voice in the head that is like a badly tuned radio playing static keeps us in ignorance of the Still Small Voice Within.

This is our true Wisdom Voice that leads us to experience Love After Love.

We might still go looking for union and communion with another. However, this will not be from a sense of lack but from a further longing for fulfilment and expansion aligned with Love’s Purpose.

Love After Love – Stanza III

take down all the love letters from the bookshelf

Credit Image by erdem dindar from Pixabay

Stanza III

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

Stepping into Love After Love

love after love - take down to old love letters

Take down the Old Love Letters

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay

So now we get to the practical invitation from the poem. Derek Walcott shares what you need to do in order to invite the experience of feasting on your life.

You are required to let go of the past. You are required to move away from the image of the personal self which is the image you need to peel from the mirror.

If you need to pretend or hide your true self,  you are with the wrong people. – Gordana Biernat

You are instructed to sit. This is not any way of sitting. It is to sit in meditation or contemplation. Without this kind of sitting then there is you will be no real feasting.

What I mean by real feasting is that you get to pour forth into the world all the creative energy that is designed to be expressed through you. You live from an experience of fulfilment rather than an experience of lack.

There is so much for you to say Y-E-S to. This is the flow of Your Energy System in alignment with Source. This is the experience of Love after Love.

Feast on Your Life

love after love - feast on your life

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

So here you have a glorious invitation and reminder of what is possible for you as an incarnated human being here on Earth. However, you have to practice:-

Without each of these (and more) the fullness of who you are created to bless the world from will remain unmanifest.

This is the 1st sharing of a poem that I love. Long term I have the intention of creating a 365 day program of inspirational reflections on mystical poems, mythological stories, inspirational song lyrics and other readings.

This could then become a year long course of study and reflection that supports your living a yoga lifestyle and developing foundational yoga life skills. It allows me to invite you to Companion YOUR Greatness along the Yoga Journey for Life.

Part of this Yoga Journey for Life is being part of a community. This community is unique in that it shares the practice of Yoga by way of poetry, storytelling, song lyrics and practices. The reason for this is because this is the language of the heart.

Join me and others in learning how to Companion YOUR Greatness and feast on your life.

Tony Cuckson
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