The Dimension of the Common Man in Derek Walcott’s Omeros: An Intertextual Approach
AbstractThis essay is an intertextual study of Derek Walcott’s collection of poetry entitled Omeros. Omeros is a high point in Walcott’s poetic effort to create a positive image of the Caribbean society. Through this work, the poet seeks to heal the historical, psychological, economic and political trauma created by centuries of excruciating slavery, cruelty of indentured labour, cultural rootlessness, and the dilemma of miscegenation. Walcott’s effort to positivise the negative perceptions of the Caribbean society takes the form of an incisive interrogation and restructuring of the Classical form of the epic genre. Classical epic deals with destiny-oriented titanic struggles of great men and women against gods, demi-gods, monsters, forces of evil, and against men and women of earth-shaking valour, just as is witnessed in the tale of the Trojan war. Structurally the epic form excludes the poor and low-born such as the wretched, culturally flotsam fishermen of the Caribbean. In Omeros, Walcott achieves a stunning feat of transforming the humdrum, poverty-stricken lives of the Caribbeans into a heroic pitch. His rationale is radical and revolutionary: the epic is informed by what is of crucial importance to, and irrevocably affects the destiny of a people. Following this premise, healing the half a millennium of intractable psychic wounds of the Caribbean society is not of less crucial importance, and destiny impacting, to the Caribbeans than triumphing over the rival Trojans was to Classical Greece. This is the focus of this essay’s interface between Classical epic and the Caribbean epic created in Walcott’s Omeros.
LWATI: A Journal of Contemporary Research, 9(1),206-216, 2012
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