Omeros Paperback – 4 Mar 2002
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In word and thought, scale and ambition Omeros, is an epic poem, providing yet further testimony to the world status of its St Lucian author, Derek Walcott. Setting out to reimagine the lives and voices of the ordinary people of the Caribbean through Greek myth and epic, Walcott constructs a heightened, and richly nuanced, vernacular able to impart the resonant narrative voices of his tale told predominantly in terza rima. These voices, far from being anachronistic or redundant, capture the essence of the Caribbean demotic in its combination of the old world and the new. Written in seven books in 64 chapters, Omeros, describes the spiritual-ancestral-journey of its black hero, Achille, his jealous love of Helen, the most beautiful black woman on the island, the search for integration and renewal by the white protagonist, Blunkett, and the curing of the wound of Philoctete by Ma Kilman, owner of the No Pain Cafe. It concludes with the story of the I-narrator, whose Greek girlfriend leaves him to go home. If the history of the Caribbean tells of a wounded divide, an enforced severance between peoples and races which the multiplicity and inclusiveness of its culture somewhat belies, in Omeros, Walcott has sought to weave these stories and strands together at the level of both theme and metaphor, intertextual symbols and myth. Transcending the warring impulses of the region's history, Omeros is definitely an epic for the New World. --David Marriott
"No poet rivals Mr. Walcott in humor, emotional depth, lavish inventiveness in language, or the ability to express the thoughts of his characters and compel the reader to follow the swift mutations of ideas and images in their minds. This wonderful story moves in a spiral, replicating human thought, and in the end, surprisingly, it makes us realize that history, all of it, belongs to us."-Mary Lefkowitz, "The New York Times Book Review" (an Editors' Choice/Best Book of 1990 selection) "Characters come fully and movingly to life in Walcott's hands; black and white are treated with equal understanding and sympathy as they go their complicated ways . . . Wit and verbal play . . . enliven every page of this extraordinary poem . . . A constant source of surprise and delight from stanza to stanza, a music so subtle, so varied, so exquisitely right that it never once, in more than eight thousand lines, strikes a false note."-Bernard Knox, "The New York Review of Books" "OnSee all Product description
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Sometimes I can't really grasp the meaning of a passage, but it doesn't really matter - each page in this book is so full of the most brilliant images & visions, that it almost seems like a book in itself. And although it's so impossibly rich in smells, colours & sounds, it never succumbs, thank God, to the kind of self-importance that sometimes overshadows the work of other truly great writers.
My one criticism of this poem would be the inclusions of the anaphoric references to the Native Indians. To me, these parts are not completely successful, they detract from the central plot. This is but a slight detraction, though. The great strength of 'Omeros' is, without doubt, Walcott's writing. His verse is quite simply beautiful. While you may find yourself lost in the plot, you can't help but get lost in his language, and I mean this in a good way. It has a richness, a mellifluousness that seeps through the stanzas. This richness is echoed in the descriptions of St. Lucia itself, the indigenous flora, fauna, sea and sky combine to construct an image of a most beautiful island. However, language has a more powerful role in 'Omeros'. As the narrator tells us, 'this language carries its cure/its radiant affliction'. In contrast to its colonial past, the language is used as a freer, not enslaver. This is a poem about healing, about history, ancestry and about ordinary human-beings. There is an elation in this poem which is captivating. It is beautiful, breathtaking. Read it.
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