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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Joseph O'Connor Biography to Cynthia Ozick Biography

a poem in seven books by Derek Walcott, published in 1990 in an edition of 325 pages. ‘Omeros’ is the Greek for Homer, whose Iliad is echoed in the names of the poem's chief protagonists, the St Lucian fishermen Achille and Hector; their rivalry for the love of Helen, the beautiful servant girl emblematically identified with the island, is central to the poem's development. Odysseus has a counterpart in the poem's narrator, whose wanderings through America and Europe in Books IV and V before returning to his birthplace in St Lucia are in close alignment with Walcott's autobiographical experience. Among the poem's most imaginatively intense sections are the visionary survey of the island upon which Omeros conducts the narrator in the final book and the spiritual return of Achille to the Africa of his ancestors in Book III. Predominantly written in intermitently rhymed tercets, the poetry consistently displays Walcott's gift for rhythmical effects of great suppleness and strength. The sea is both a principal source of the poem's wealth of natural imagery and a unifying principle in the exposition of its vast historical and geographical scope.

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