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Omeros by Derek Walcott
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Omeros

by Derek Walcott

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6511214,803 (3.84)63
  1. 00
    Passage to Juneau by Jonathan Raban (thorold)
    thorold: Raban does in prose what Walcott does in verse for the diagonally-opposite corner of the continent.
  2. 00
    Tent of Miracles by Jorge Amado (defaults)
  3. 00
    Sea of Lentils by Antonio Benítez Rojo (caitlinlizzy)
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English (11)  Dutch (1)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
The Nobel Prize was awarded for this Homeric poem -- and the announcement was the discovery of gold in the Caribbean archipelago! "Omeros" is the title of this long and interconnected poem -- broken out in easily-read Danteian terza rima (for the most part). The title is from the way a beautiful woman pronounced the protagonist fisherman's name -- "Homer". And the "Om" invokes the revenant spirit of the conch, "mer" is a word for mother, and "os" is a word for bone. Just sayin'....

There are many--and I am one--who avoid long poems, or "poetry" of pointless tale-telling and irritating similes that avoid telling a good tale. Walcott provides a robust tale--this is an Odessian romp through the tree-falls and archipelago of the Caribbean. And it is filled with jewels, and joys and pains. Irony is the salvation in the struggle with colonials and slaves, all of whom are struggling with consciousness. Homer himself takes a turn in narrating this semi-autobiographical unveiling of a wounded Achilles. There are many allusions to historical events--the islands passed from one colonial power to another after various battles. There are many echoes and nods to mythology--the role of a beauty among tribes haunted by sex. But this is not knotted obscurity like trying to read a Pound-ed cant Canto. This poetry is vivid and accessible -- filled with moist surprises, just like a jungle. You don't have to read, or long for, footnotes to "explain" the meaning.

I laughed and wept, and felt enriched. And relieved that I was able to sail off with treasure and without the burden of having had to pillage the smoking village and slaughter any stinking pirates and naval pretenders. ( )
1 vote keylawk | Feb 6, 2014 |
I read this when it came out, and was startled by its ductile grandeur and directness. I aloudread it to various students, in classes, and in large gatherings, for several years. It is simply the best re-working of the Odyssey since Joyce's Ulysses. And of course, Walcott has the daring of poetry; Joyce collapsed into prose.
A decade ago I had maybe fifty lines by heart, in short passages, simply because I had aloudread it enough to remember them. The only one that stays with me in my decline is the one a tried--and failed--to say to the author when he was signing books at a community college convention in Portsmouth, NH (I think). Waiting in a long line, I brought my copy from home to him, and tried to say the very last line, "The moon shone like a slice of raw onion." But my voice failed me, only the second time in my life: the first was in third grade, in a Christmas pageant, where I had trouble reading the Luke story in front of an audience.
By the way, Walcott's multi-linguality does not really come through in the poem, and maybe it shouldn't; but here is a man for whom English may be the second or third language he learned as a child, after Creole and perhaps French. I think he may have read some Homer in Greek as well. ( )
2 vote AlanWPowers | May 2, 2013 |
For folks looking for contemporary epic poetry and poetic sequences, or interested in work that incorporates classical allusions, this book is probably a good choice. It is a very distinct reading experience---there are some beautiful phrases, and a few full sentences that I found myself reading over and over again simply because of their intricate beauty and sound, but for the most part, for me, this didn't actually feel like poetry. I certainly can't call it a novel, but the poems within seem more like chopped prose than actual poetry. Because of that, I grew tired of the style, as it just seemed forced on the book. There are also so many allusions here that, honestly, I felt like I needed some footnotes to make my way through the book and truly see what the author was getting at. I won't say the book was a waste of my time--it was interesting enough--but on the whole I felt like it was an awkward read that I likely wouldn't return to or recommend. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Apr 1, 2011 |
The greatest long poem of the past 100 years. This book is a masterpiece, a Caribbean epic poem that follows classical models. A fine, fine poem that reads surprisingly quickly. ( )
1 vote Stodelay | Nov 1, 2009 |
An English language epic poem that retells the Iliad as set in twentieth century St. Lucia.
  booksofcolor | Jul 10, 2009 |
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For my shipmates in this craft,
for my brother, Roderick,
& for Roger Straus
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"This is how, one sunrise, we cut down them canoes."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374523509, Paperback)

Creating an epic poem based on Homer and Odysseus seems a risky proposition for a modern poet, but Derek Walcott accomplishes the feat with stunning results in Omeros. The title, which is Homer's name in Greek, nods to the wandering and exile of the great poet himself, who learned and suffered while traveling. From there, Walcott takes off to "see the cities of many men and to know their minds." After an exhilarating exploration of tremendous proportions, we learn of the past and the present and ride along the rhythm of the words of Walcott in this amazing text.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A poem in seven books, of circular narrative design where Achille, the protagonist, has set out on a fishing expedition where he is carried back across the centuries to his ancestral home on the West African coast.

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