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Epic Poem Essay

1176 words - 5 pages

In the epic poem Omeros by Derek Walcott is a literary piece that calls for a lot of attention. This poem can be dangerously confusing at time because it is written in a universe that has so many different things going on. Omeros is a racial, ethnic, and political poem that captivates the reader for a couple of reasons. Wolcott intentionally doesn’t put the poem in anytime of chronological order. He uses many different cultures/religions such as African gods, Greek gods, Caribbean gods, and the Christian God. Wolcott talks about complexity of being both Afrocentric, Eurocentric and shows how these principles/ideologies distract us as human beings. His characters show signs of displacement in society trying to assimilate between culture and race. The poem also in some instances rejects or hides the characters’ race and culture as they try to find an identity in the world. Omeros is unlike any traditional epic poem and it deviates from the conventional genre of an epic poem. Jay for instance says,” the epic element in Omeros threatens to reopen an old debate over Walcott’s relationship to the European and African elements in his personal heritage and in the culture of West Indies as a whole” (Jay 546). Walcott uses wounds as way to open up this long debate and show us how these cultures work against and with us. The wound is a symbol symbol is apparent and prevalent towards every character both physically as well as psychological. The wound is the gash of history the connects us all.
Omeros is a literary piece that continues to draw mass controversy and raises many questions about its legitimacy as an epic poem. One reason for this is because no wants to really admit or discuss what Wolcott’s truly proposing. This is precisely the point John Ramazani makes in his article entitled, “The Wound of History”. He believes that Walcott did the world great justice in exposing both the white and black race. Walcott did this by using the wounds of his characters to rectify the race and ethnicity but not only that also to give life to the suffering of the African Caribbean’s in a way never shown before. Walcott takes the hardships of one race and makes them applicable to almost everyone. An example of this would be of Achille who struggles to find his cultural identity even though he has his racial identity. In his metaphorical trip to Africa and ends up talking to his father about how he lost himself.
“[Afolabe] Achille. What does that name mean? I have forgotten the one that I gave you. But it was , it seems, many years ago. What does it mean? [Achille] Well, I to have forgotten. Everything was forgotten, you also. I do not know. The deaf sea has changed around every name that you gave us, trees, men, we yearn for a sound that is missing. [Afolabe] A name means something. The qualities desired in a son, and even a girl-child; so even the shadows called you expected one virtue, since every name is a blessing, since I am remembering the hope I had for you...

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