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The Haitian Trilogy

Plays: Henri Christophe, Drums and Colours, and The Haytian Earth

Derek Walcott

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Haitian Trilogy Download image

ISBN10: 0374528136
ISBN13: 9780374528133

Trade Paperback

448 Pages



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In the history plays that comprise The Haitian TrilogyHenri Christophe, Drums and Colours, and The Haitian Earth—Derek Walcott, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, uses verse to tell the story of his native West Indies as a four-hundred-year cycle of war, conquest and rebellion.

In Henri Christophe and The Haitian Earth, Walcott re-casts the legacy of Haiti's violent revolutionaries—led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines and Henri Christophe—whose rebellion established the first black state in the Americas, but whose cruelty becomes a parable of racial pride and corruption. Drums and Colours, commissioned in 1958 to celebrate the first parliament in Trinidad, is a grand pageant linking the lives of complex, ambiguous heroes: Columbus and Raleigh; Toussaint; and George William Gordon, a martyr of the constitutional era.

From Henri Christophe's high style to the bracing vernacular of The Haitian Earth, to the epic scale and scope of Drums and Colours, in these plays Walcott, one of our most celebrated poets, carved a place in the modern theater for the history of the West Indies, and a sounding room for his own maturing voice.


Praise for The Haitian Trilogy

"The Nobel poet laureate attempts to recreate West Indian history on a canvas as large and mythic as Shakespeare's War of the Roses. It's a heroic, monumental undertaking—and not surprisingly, St. Lucia-born Walcott summons the ghost of Shakespeare in his epigraphs, echoes and metaphors. Walcott's lines weave in and out of blank verse as easily as an old man walks in and out of memory."—Cynthia Haven, San Francisco Chronicle

"Filled with passages of startling poetry . . . Throughout the trilogy, Walcott's ear for dialect is remarkable."—Jack Helbig, Booklist

"Brilliant . . . These three early theater experiments by Nobel prize-winning poet and playwright Walcott center around three historical characters: Christoff, Dessaline, and Toussaint L'Ouverture. Moving freely through the history of the West Indies, these verse plays are the work of a powerful imagination struggling to find a language to realize its vision on stage. The first play, 'Henri Christophe,' is a Shakespearean meditation on the corrupting influence of power, while the second, 'Drums and Colours,' is a pageant of history from the age of discovery with Columbus to 1833 with Toussaint L'Ouverture. 'The Haytian Earth' is a long historical drama of the slavery, rebellion, murder, greed, and power struggles that have fertilized the Haitian earth with blood."—Thomas E. Luddy, Salem State College, Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott (1930-2017) was born in St. Lucia, the West Indies, in 1930. His Collected Poems: 1948-1984 was published in 1986, and his subsequent works include a book-length poem, Omeros (1990); a collection of verse, The Bounty (1997); and, in an edition illustrated with his own paintings, the long poem Tiepolo's Hound (2000). His numerous plays include The Haitian Trilogy (2001) and Walker and The Ghost Dance (2002). Walcott received the Queen's Medal for Poetry in 1988 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992.

© Danielle Devaux /

Derek Walcott