Omeros - Derek Walcott
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 [b:The Autobiography of My Mother|69721|The Autobiography of My Mother|Jamaica Kincaid||769556] is not so poetically structured.

Really, the subject is the wanderings of the author's mind round about his home island of St. Lucia, I think. In this exploration, he sometimes ventures into the lives of a set of characters; he himself appears as a character, mostly talking about his life but on occasion interacting with the other characters. He traverses the seasons and geography of the island, and makes imaginative forays into its history. He leaves the island for a while in the middle, but it's not out of his mind at any point in that period of his life. In the final chapters, after he comes back to the island, he meets his master Homer who's been recurring in the guise of various blind bards throughout, and both discovers his affinity and criticizes his attitude to the island, nearly damning himself to hell, but ending on a hopeful note. I'm just naming a part of what's going on in this immensely complex poem; another major theme is the growth of the island's culture, and that's the one that Achille is the hero of, it seems.

I was really delighted by the meter and sound of these verses, subtly rhyming and alliterating. But this is not the only achievement; I'd like to know how Walcott manages to sound so fresh throughout. In short, although some of it was above my head, what I understood of it impressed me thoroughly.