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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,120 ratings  ·  97 reviews
A poem in five books, of circular narrative design, titled with the Greek name for Homer, which simultaneously charts two currents of history: the visible history charted in events -- the tribal losses of the American Indian, the tragedy of African enslavement -- and the interior, unwritten epic fashioned from the suffering of the individual in exile.
Paperback, 325 pages
Published June 1st 1992 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1990)
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James Murphy
Derek Walcott's Omeros is an intersection of characters in present day St. Lucia with the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey. The heart of the story is simple and familiar. Achille and Hector are St. Lucia fishermen who compete for the attentions of the beautiful Helen. She's the housemaid for the retired English Sergeant Major Plunkett and his wife Maud. A blind man called Seven Seas represents Homer himself. Along with other colorful characters like Philoctete, another fisherman evoking Homeric epic, a...more
Feb 01, 2014 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: poetry lovers
This book is more than a book. It is a remarkable poetic feat. Walcott retells the story of Homer's Odyssey in modern times, using a tiny island and its inhabitants as the setting and characters. And here's something that is truly remarkable about it--just about the whole thing (a couple hundred pages) rhymes. You don't notice that it rhymes, because the story itself is so absorbing. I'm definitely not somebody who believes that poetry has to rhyme, but anybody who can create an epic poem with a...more
Sep 27, 2007 Shannon is currently reading it
I've been chipping away at this one on and off for 6 years. The only man I ever fell head over heels for invited me to hear Walcott read excerpts, and I got hooked: "Were you smoke from a fire that never burned?" That line haunted me along with the phantom heartbreaker that unrequited love turned out to be. But in getting through 2/3 of this epic and years over that man, I have found many other passages worth sticking it out for..."Because rhyme remains the parentheses of palms/ shielding a cand...more
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...more
A very challenging read, but well worth it! The scope of history, literature, landscape, love, pretty much everything, is broad and surprising. The language was amazing. This is a kind of re-telling of the Iliad and the Odyssey, but set in the Carribean and, rather than real wars, there are relationship wars, slave trading, and parallels to injustices in history. Characters meditate a lot, explore their roots, and speak patois. (My favorite line, amid all the gorgeous metaphor, was "Achille, my...more
Mar 29, 2014 Don rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Conveys the author's associations between the Greek classics and life in the Caribbean and other places he has visited. Seems very personal with some pretty cryptic lines interspersed throughout, but the dominant theme seems to be the role and meaning of history in people's lives and identities. Not a lot of metaphor. This is not at all the Odyssey translated onto Santa Lucia. Just finished listening to the BBC World Book Club podcast with him which helped a bit with comprehension of the author'...more
Omeros is quite simply one of the most beautiful and engaging books I've ever read. It's smart, cynical, moving, even funny. I've been savoring it for months (it's a demanding read, not a book to zip through), but will now make a concerted effort to push through to its no-doubt tragic conclusion. Simply a must-read for anyone who cares about literature.
Achingly beautiful. The world looks different while you are reading this epic poem set in St. Lucia. Walcott won the Nobel Prize in 1992 for this one. My heart hurts with love for this book. Omeros makes poetry fall out of your mouth while you rinse a dish.
Nov 13, 2008 Shinynickel marked it as to-read
Barack Obama was spotted carrying this book around. I am being a fangirl.
Vivian Valvano
Each time I read OMEROS, I get more out of it, and I'll keep working at it. It is brilliant. Walcott threads incantatory and narrative pieces about his native St. Lucia - using both characters native to the island and characters that hail from the imperial conquests; with myriad, complex allusions to some of Homer's salient themes; with a first-person narrator who is exceedingly close to autobiographical. Some musings: I love Major Plunkett's historical research in Book Two, with comments like,...more
I am not going to lie, this was a very difficult read. I ended up reading this as a requirement for a Comparative Literature level one class, which focused on Language, Diasporas, and colonization. It was the first book we read in the class. The professor said she wanted us to read the most difficult book first, this made the rest of the term easier when it came to the other reading assignments. I actually found this book a more difficult read than Dante's Inferno, but I was reading that at my o...more
Michael Austin
To begin, I think it is important to note how difficult it is to write an epic poem in the modern era. Almost everything about modernity works against the epic sensibility. We are ironic, fragmented, and cynical, while the epic requires seriousness, coherence, and more than a little willing suspension of disbelief. This, I suspect, is why there really hasn't been a great epic poem in the world since 1667--and even Milton was pretty ironic about the whole thing.

Derek Walcott solves this problem s...more
Published in 1990, Omeros is a poem by expatriate Caribbean poet Derek Walcott about his native island of St. Lucia and, by extension, postcolonial locations everywhere. At 300 pages, this is a poem of epic scale and, at many points, direct allusion to the epic genre of antiquity.

The poem is written in two main strands. On the one hand, there is a fictional plot set on St. Lucia, where the poor black fishermen Achilles and Hector fight over the beautiful Helen. They are joined by a supporting c...more
I really enjoyed White Egrets as a collection by Walcott but I wasn't sure how I would feel about his epic poetry. I ended up really enjoying the book, being able to appreciate the poetics of Walcott while still being engaged in a story.

The story follows the participants of a love triangle and those they interact with on their island of St.Lucia while also focusing on the narrator's personal conflict from time to time. The character's struggles highlight social themes, like identity, on multiple...more
Christopher Miller
Walcott blends beautiful lyrical style with epic conventions, all while focusing on the traditionally un-heroic topic of the culture and history of a Caribbean island and its people. Walcott is able to weave multiple voices and various temporal moments together to form an impressively aerobatic and cohesive narrative. The most stunning aspect of Walcott's work is that the depth of his poetic devices do not take away the stunning beauty of the individual line. Be prepared for a long read as you f...more
I can't say I understand all of it, but its packed with amazing poetry. Walcott never lets the reader get comfortable with plot lines, concepts, or metaphors. He is tricky and provoking, funny and profound. I can't say it was an easy read, but it was worth the dig, the chipping way. Its a poem worth study, opened my horizon. My Google history if full of searches for St. Lucia, The Odyssey, the African Diaspora, Dante, Pilgrims Progress, James Joyce, the sea swift...etc. It opens a whole crazy Pa...more
lyell bark
this is one of the best books i've ever read book as far as fiction + poetry goes [it is an epic poem u see, a poem that tells a story], and i just remember it right now after typing all caps about homer. please to reading and learn about cool west african gods + learn how to make a canoe from a single tree. wowzers.
Bob Arbogast
I really enjoyed this book, but I’m hard-pressed to say why. Rather than taking a measured approach and attempting complete comprehension, I simply zipped through it, carried away by the language. What I got out of it was a lament and a love for St. Lucia. I was also impressed with the anger, Walcott is not a man sitting idly under a coconut palm, sipping a rum drink; he is confronting prejudice and cultural bigotry head on.

I will read this book again, and probably more times after that. Repeat...more
Beautiful language and imagery but I honestly no idea what was going on for majority of the poem.
Ανδρα µοι εννεπε, Μουσα...or not? At first sight Omeros appears to be a modern epic. It is a lengthy narrative poem, there are many locations, it is about topics that are significant to a culture or people an it goes back and forth into history to relate historic events to the present. There is also an overt statement of a theme of the work a preapositio although it is not right at the beginning (p.28 “affliction is one theme of this work”)and some trips to the underworld (dive to shipwreck, ha...more
Mark Patton
Not a collection of poetry, but an epic novel in verse. It must take some confidence, on the part of an author, to write consciously in the tradition of Homer, Virgil, Dante and Milton, but that is exactly what Walcott does here, continuing a conversation that began more than 2000 years ago, and bringing the New World into this conversation. There are echoes of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” in the way in which Walcott incorporates the everyday lives of ordinary people into his narrative (much of the s...more
Greg Fanoe
Nobel Prize Project
Year: 1992
Winner: Derek Walcott

Review: Some incredibly beautiful writing and themes here, and several lines that will stick with me for a long time. There's some stuff here that's really great (Book II and Book VI are fundamentally 5 star worthy), but it also drags a bit in the middle and occasionally lapses into prose with line breaks.

Verdict: Of the 110 Nobel winners (as of this writing), very few have been English language poets. Per the Nobel's official accounting there ha...more
Its hard to judge such a complex work in just a few words, nevertheless, here I go.

As an epic Omeros failed to move me emotionally in the way that other great epics I've read such as the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Silmarillion, the Kalevala, the Aeneid etc. When I read the Iliad I really felt immersed in the culture and that I started to understand the mind of the Bronze Age Greek Heroic Culture, the same with Middle-Earth and even the Icelandic Sagas which I would consider prose epics. Omeros clai...more
May 28, 2011 Vasha7 added it
Shelves: poetry
This is a long narrative poem, and usually called an epic; I would call it that except that I no longer have any idea what an epic is. It has no single hero, even though one of its characters, Achille, very nearly is one; the author is consciously considering the form of heroic tales. Parts of it seem like a novel (in verse), since they concern the daily lives of sharply-drawn characters; but on the whole, structurally, this only makes sense as a poem. Even a not-so-narrative novel like The Aut...more
Gracie Torres
Sep 30, 2008 Gracie Torres rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who love image-heavy poetry//This is an Epic
Recommended to Gracie by: Assigned for Professor Scharfman's Caribbean Literature Course S
"Then silence is sawn in half by a dragonfly/as eels sign their names along the bottom-sand/ when the sunrise brightens the river's memory/ and waves of huge ferns are nodding to the sea's sound/ Although the smoke forgets the earth from which is ascends/ and the nettles guard the holes where the laurels were killed/ an iguana hears the axes, clouding each lens/over its lost name, when the hunched island was called/ 'Iounalao' 'Where it iguana is from'/ But, taking its own time, the iguana will...more
Jun 15, 2011 Kt rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: MRG 201103 (Joanna)
Recommended to Kt by: MRGbooks 201103 (Joanna,Howard)
Shelves: mrg, pb 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 an...more
In a recent New York Times Book Review, William Logan claimed of Walcott that, "If he had not invented himself, academia would have had to invent him." (*The Poet of Exile,* April 8th) I completely concur, except that Logan meant this pejoratively, and I mean this lauditorily. Yes, I did read this in college for an independent study on postocolonial literature. Yes, this is now a very prominent text within academia. But I feel that these facts point toward the text's vital importance, not only w...more
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...more
Moira McPartlin
This is probably the best poetry I have ever read; I wanted it to go on for ever.
Omeros is a novel length poem set in St Lucia and follows the exploits of fishermen Achile and Hector and the woman they love, Helen. Omeros is Greek for Homer so it is no coincidence that the names of the characters are picked from The Iliad and a blind poet Seven Seas features in the tale.
But this is not just a tale of the island and the sea. It is the writer's story and the poem moves with him from St Lucia to B...more
This is the best book I never finished. While that in itself may not be saying much; it is--in this case--a testament to how rich and thought-provoking the text actually is. An adaptation of Homer's Odyssey, it is a story about race, colonialism, and of course, the journey "home" as only a Caribbean intellectual could write it.

Each page is so packed with imagery, metaphor and historical allusion that it is easy to wander off in reflection and contemplation at any moment. This is why I have start...more
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The Bookhouse Boys: Omeros discussion 37 12 Feb 11, 2014 12:37PM  
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Derek Walcott is a Caribbean poet, playwright, writer and visual artist. Born in Castries, St. Lucia, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 "for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment."

His work, which developed independently of the schools of magic realism emerging in both South America and Europe at around the time...more
More about Derek Walcott...
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