Sample Essay

Walcott’s Omeros is an epic poem in English although the poet is Black and belongs to the Caribbean Island but he was of the view that as English is no one’s possession but that of language itself. The poem is the story Omeros with its ‘appropriations of Homeric epic tradition’ is a ‘product’ of ‘cultural translation’[1].

The dominant theme of the poem is the identity of an individual as associated with the forefathers along with the recurring themes of Iliad and Odyssey such as uninterrupted journey and wandering, ‘Island after island passing. Still we aint at home’[2]. The journey has caused one to be away from their loved ones, therefore the image of going to journey is accompanied by remorse, as the lover says, ‘I thought of Helen/ as my island lost in the haze, and I was sure’ to ‘never see her again’[3]. The imagery of a lover’s moaning evokes the sentiments of the readers and creates a somber and bleak atmosphere in the poem.

Names, which mark identity of an individual, are not important for the poet as he announces, ‘Names are not oars’ or ‘legends’ and ‘slowly the foaming clouds have forgotten ours’[4]. Walcott himself admitted that he wanted to write about ‘very simple people’ who are ‘heroic in their own right[5].

[1] Bruce Woodcock, “Derek Walcott: Omeros.” in Neil Roberts. A companion to twentieth-century poetry. (New York, NY: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003) 547.

[2] Derek Walcott Omeros. (London: Faber, 1990) 203.

[3] Walcott 222

[4] Walcott 312

[5] Jaki Lyden. “Derek Walcott: A Life in Poetry.” NPR: Weekend All Things Considered 18 3 2007.

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