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Omeros Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition (June 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374523509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374523503
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

From Publishers Weekly

This magnificent modern epic by poet-playwright Walcott ( The Arkansas Testament ) follows the wanderings of a present-day Odysseus and the inconsolable sufferings of those who are displaced and traveling with trepidation toward their homes. Written in seven circling books and magically fluid tercets, the poem illuminates the classical past and its motifs through an extraordinary cast of contemporary characters from the island of Santa Lucia: humble fishermen Achilles, Philoctete and Hector; a feverishly beautiful house servant, Helen, who incites her own Trojan War; a local seer, Seven Seas; and the narrator himself, who wanders to the States, to Europe and back again although he knows, "the nearer home, the deeper our fears increase, / that no house might come to meet us on our own shore." Singularly ambitious, and as moving as the works of its namesake, Omeros (Greek for "Homer") remains accessible despite its complexity and divergent strains, which include the privations of Native Americans, African natives and exiled English colonials.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I can say this is one of the most impressive books I had ever read.
ferran@ctv.es
In fact, it includes references to that story, with characters named Helen, Hector, and Achille.
Ray Zimmerman
Fascinating epic poetry with stunning imagery of a classical world mixed with our own.
Kelsey May Dangelo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. Ott VINE VOICE on January 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Walcott confidently feels his way into epic form, borrowing the blind eyes of Homer and tropes from Homer's tales. Jam-packed with craft, OMEROS' Dantesque tercets make hairpin turns on the pinpoints of vowels and consonants. Walcott is nothing if not evocative, calling forth the spirits of breadfruit, waves, Plains Indians, sunken treasure, sea creatures and all his other muses with a music that is beyond sounds.
For all the great poetry, what fans of the modern epic will miss in OMEROS is a narrative through-line. Structurally, it is more like William Carlos Williams' PATERSON or especially Hart Crane's THE BRIDGE, than like THE ILLIAD or THE ODYSSEY. The stories in the poem are given secondary importance to the ideas. While I will not disagree with other reviewers' characterizations of the characters as 'well-developed,' I will say that Walcott gives his characters very little to do. The greatest journey is the one taken by the un-named narrator (who seems to be prowling the University Poet circuit from the Carribean to the U.S. to England). Those who want a story with their modern epic are directed to THE CHANGING LIGHT AT SANDOVER by James Merrill.
What Walcott offers in place of narrative is recollections, meditations and essays on a post-colonial world. Certain human motifs are bound to repeat, he says, and demonstrates with the story of fishermen Hector and Achille fighting for the island girl in the yellow dress, Helen. To me, Omeros is really a collection of poems in a similar form spiralling around similar themes, taking up each others' melodies in different keys. Like any symphony, it sometimes gets lost. But its individual passages are, more often than not, magnificent -- and beautiful to hear.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Becker on April 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
My review title shouldn't be construed as me claiming any knowledge re: Caribbean culture/history, or indeed -any- of the experiences of the disenfranchised peoples this book touches on. All I can say is that the glowing reviews here on Amazon are accurate. Walcott's poetry is supple almost beyond belief: so facile and brilliant that it would stand between the reader and the subject if Walcott himself didn't admit that, yes, he can be awfully facile and brilliant with the English language! The writer walks a dozen dangerous lines - among them, the could-be-precious placing of himself in his own poem - and walks away triumphant from every single challenge.
If you are looking for a linear "story" in the tradition of Homer but transplanted to a Caribbean locale, this isn't it. If however you are looking for great poetry and the understanding of others (and yourself) that great poetry can bring, then it is right here. OMEROS is eminently worth your time.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
An amazing poem, especially when read in an environmental context similar to St. Lucia. I attended a semester in the Bahamas, where our English class spent fifteen weeks reading and dissecting the poem. "Omeros" is stunning, elegantly written, subtle and outspoken at the same time. The mingling of Helen and Helen, of Mr. Walcott's personal history (or the history of the "phantom narrator," as we chose to call him) and that of his island are masterful. A challenging but very worthwhile read.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
I didn't know the work of Derek Walcott until I ran into this book. What an amazing book it is ! I used to dislike epic poems - they usually just ramble on and on, preferably made to rhyme in the correct places but in such a way that all life is taken out of the lines. This book is different & its author is no less than a genius.
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.
Hans Wigman
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. C Duchi on March 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Exploring the relationships between natives, tourists, and nature, Walcott moves beyond just our relationships with one another to create this modern epic. Evocative of the Iliad with its battles between Hector and Achille over the yellow-dressed Helen, Omeros moves beyond just the interactions of the natives to greater themes.

There are many exciting parts to the poem: the beauty of the language, the themes, that it was only on the second time reading Omeros that I realized it rhymed, such is the seeming effortlessness with which Walcott writes. It is a modern epic for the way it is able to really explore human relationships with one another, with the trees, with people invading our indigenous societies.

Walcott manages to focus on a few people in spite of the seemingly huge scope of Omeros, and this makes the book much more deeply enjoyable. I recommend it heartily.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roger Brunyate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
OMEROS, the eight-thousand-line poem that undoubtedly clinched Derek Walcott's Nobel Prize in 1992, is a lithe glistening marvel. Like some mythological creature, it twists and turns before your eyes, seldom going straight, but shifting in space and time, sometimes terrible, sometimes almost familiar, always fascinating. Book-length poems (I am thinking of things like Byron's DON JUAN, Browning's THE RING AND THE BOOK, and Vikram Seth's THE GOLDEN GATE) might almost be thought of as novels in verse. Almost, but not quite. Most novels tell their story in more or less linear fashion, but poetry works not by explanation but by evocation -- and at that, Walcott is a master.

And what does he evoke? First and foremost, the people and landscape of his native Caribbean island of St. Lucia. The watercolor on the cover, as though by a tropical Winslow Homer, is in fact by the poet himself. Google his paintings and you will see his extraordinary eye for character and color, qualities that shine equally clearly through his words. Omeros is the Greek spelling of Homer, and on one level the poem is a West Indies version of the Iliad, with two fishermen, Achille and Hector, fighting over the beauty of a local Helen, housemaid to a British expatriate couple. The poem begins in epic fashion with the building and naming of boats, and there are other Homeric allusions throughout its seven long sections.
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