Saturday, December 24, 2011

Caribbean Epic

    "Except for one hand he sat as still as marble,
    with his egg-white eyes, fingers recounting the past
    of another sea, measured by the stroking oars.

    O open this day with the conch’s moan, Omeros,
    as you did in my boyhood, when I was a noun
    gently exhaled from the palate of the sunrise.."

Derek Walcott was born in 1930 in Castries, Santa Lucia. With the publication of Omeros in 1990, Derek Walcott produced a poem in the tradition of the Iliad
and the Aeneid.
Omeros is an epic poem spanning many years of history, both personal and international, and encompassing the sea and land of his many home lands, it is a tour de force that inspires the reader. Influenced by both Homer and Dante the poet blends references to time past and present, to places in which he lived when young and old, with a subtle touch that limns the beauty of a dream. I was gripped and intrigued by the complex thematics of anger, division, competition, lust, battle, domination, oppression, suffering, and eventually love, homecoming and redemption. Helen, woman and island, is presented as symbolic and actual center of the human struggle, and a goal of the competition of nations and individuals. I felt the evocative tapestry of this lengthy poem intriguing in the natural way he blended the old world of the Aegean with the new world of the Caribbean.
Most moving was the poet's journey in search for hope, love, meaning, and self-understanding in the midst of the injustice, the despair and hopelessness of the post colonial world. Omeros is a difficult but immensely rewarding, indeed enjoyable read for all poetry lovers of the new world.


Parrish Lantern said...

This is a fantastic book of poetry, I posted a while back on Walcott's Latest White Egrets, which won the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry in 20ll.

James said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I will add White Egrets to my list.