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Omeros

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  2,073 ratings  ·  181 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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3.99  · 
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 ·  2,073 ratings  ·  181 reviews


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Lisa
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The power of myth and language to trace universal human questions!

Derek Walcott's masterpiece "Omeros" is the perfect example of how ancient myths can be seen as metaphors to clarify human existence - connecting present, past and future, solitude and community, fiction and reality, natural and artificial elements of life.

Set in the Caribbean, in modern times, it features the characters from the Iliad and the Odyssey, playing out their roles in the local, contemporary environment, but with all
...more
Aubrey
I said, "Omeros,"

and O was the conch-shell's invocation, mer was
both mother and sea in our Antillean patois,
os, a grey bone, and the white surf as it crashes

and spreads its sibilant collar on a lace shore.
Omeros was the crunch of dry leaves, and the washes
that echoed from a cave-mouth when the tide has ebbed.
I wanted to say poetry has more rules and required training of personal taste, but I found something in this in the end. Even if I hadn't, it would be pitiful indeed to claim a fundamental
...more
James Murphy
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
Omeros (the Greek name for Homer) by Derek Walcott is a challenging, multi-layered epic poem in seven books. Although the poem does not retell Homer’s works, it does feature characters in the Iliad and Odyssey and is replete with references to Greek mythology. Several seemingly disparate narrative threads intersect in the poem. Weaving in and out of these different threads is the author’s reflections on his life and his commentary on the damaging effects of colonialism on the indigenous populati ...more
Alan
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-lit
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
Daniel Chaikin
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
5. Omeros by Derek Walcott
published: 1990
format: 325 page Paperback
acquired: December
read: Jan 1-5, restarted Jan 8-18
rating: 5

From about 1667 to 1814, as the British and French fought for supremacy in the Caribbean and elsewhere, the strategically important island of St. Lucia was fought over numerous times and changed hands fourteen times. It became know as the "Helen of the West Indies". This is Walcott's pick-up point for his masterpiece.

It is, in it's simplest sense, a story of the island
...more
J
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic !
….
I sang of quiet Achille, Afolabe’s son,
who never ascended in an elevator,
who had no passport, since the horizon needs none,

never begged nor borrowed, was nobody’s waitor,
whose end, when it comes, will be a death by water (320)


…Men can kill
their own brothers in rage, but the madman who tore
Achille’s undershirt from one shoulder also tore
at his heart. The rage that he felt against Hector

was shame. To go crazy for an old bailing tin
crusted with rust! The duel of these fishermen
was ove
...more
Kate
Oct 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Liz
Mar 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Beautiful language and imagery but I honestly had no idea what was going on for majority of the poem.
Roger Brunyate
May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Evocation

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 n
...more
Czarny Pies
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Those who understand that megalomania is an attribute of all great poets.
Derek Walcott's "Omeros" covers more topics than Wikipedia. Among the subjects that it touches on are colonialism, slavery, racism, sex, class divisions in British society, death, literature, the plight of the American first nations, the vacuity of the American dream, piracy, war and the mediocrity of Toronto. Some readers will likely feel that this poem is excessively grandiose. Walcott, who is currently somewhere on the other side of the Styx, might not disagree. I think rather than he would p ...more
Peter
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I found this extraordinarily inventive and extravagantly good. I wasn't sure why anyone would have written an epic poem in the late 20th century, but Walcott shows that an epic can be written not just at the center of an empire to mythologize it, but on the margins, on behalf of the downtrodden, and to interrogate the very idea of empire and empire-building. He figures St. Lucia variously as Troy, as West Africa plundered by slavers, as the prize in a 17th-century sea battle between the French a ...more
Shannon
Sep 27, 2007 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
Christopher
This is sublime, roiling. Humbling in scope, a beat I’ll need to re-read. But for now I’ll settle for having floated in its foam and been torn by its ripped currents.
Michael Austin
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
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
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
Read By RodKelly
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-owned
I feel so proud to have read this sprawling, difficult, yet stunning work as my introduction to this Nobel Prize winning author. Omeros is a work that takes LOTS of patience and focus to really sort through the unbelievable technical range that Walcott employs, and get to the heart of this Caribbean epic.

I'm so happy I picked this up!
Christopher
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
Sunni
Oct 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, fiction
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
John
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Continuing to read, here and there. I pick it up periodically and read a Chapter or Sub Chapter. The language is to be savored slowly. You also start to pick up on the rhyming, which makes it more enjoyable.

This book for me is a long, slow, ongoing project, but a joyful one. The language is both funny and amazing at times -- and beautiful.

"I grew up where alleys ended in a harbor
and Infinity wasn't the name of our street;
where the town anarchist was the corner barber"
Valerie
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.
Janet
Jul 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
An epic poem--Homer, set in the Caribbean. Fishermen named Achilles and Hector. A housemaid in a yellow dress named Helen. Battles and memory. I was glad I took this on vacation with me, it needs a lot of unstructured time. The guy didn't win the Nobel Prize for nothing. This is why we read, the astonishing beauty of one word up against another.
Susanna
Sep 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Annelies
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english, poetry
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, hal ...more
Tristan
So, to start off, disclaimers. I rushed through this--I've been busy and don't really have time to read and now was not the time to embark on something as ambitious as Omeros but I was far enough in when I realized that to stop or I knew I would probably never read it. I "read" this poem, but there were large sections of it that I just completely failed to process/comprehend at all and I did not make much of the effort I usually would to remedy that.
That being said, here are the thoughts I did m
...more
Vivian Valvano
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
James
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
Greg Fanoe
Nov 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nobel-prize, poetry
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
Marissa
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
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Around the Year i...: Omeros, by Derek Walcott 1 7 Apr 28, 2018 06:00PM  
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Derek Walcott was 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
“Art is History's nostalgia, it prefers a thatched roof to a concrete factory, and the huge church above a bleached village.” 19 likes
“These are the days when, however simple the future, we do not go
towards it but leave part of life in a lobby whose elevators
divide and enclose us, brightening digits that show

exactly where we are headed, while a young Polish woman
is emptying an ashtray, and we are drawn to a window
whose strings, if we pull them, widen an emptiness.”
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