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Walcott’s Diverse View of History in Omeros

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Question: Look over the following references: what does Walcott's view of history seem to be in Omeros? Is it consistent throughout? Does it need to be?

  • 13—In Omeros, Walcott catches the surf line across the sea and centuries.
  • 15—The past always suffers and stares.
  • 19, 22—Philoctete’s wound as the burden of colonial history/slavery.
  • 25—Plunkett’s view of British colonial activity: "All history/ in a dusty Beefeater’s gin."
  • 30-32-Plunkett’s notion that St. Lucia needs a history in honor of Helen’s beauty.
  • 35-Helen imagines the old Battle of Saints.
  • 43,46—Faith in the old bottle and the shipwreck as trust in the past.
  • 59-60—The colonial atrocities of Bennett & Ward
  • 77ff.—Midshipman Plunkett and the Battle of the Saints
  • 87-88—The Major’s maps and Maud’s shroud
  • 92ff., esp. 95-97—Plunkett’s historical project and the Homeric connection, also vows of empire
  • 98-99—Plunkett’s archeological dig and History "written by a flag of smoke."
  • 101-103—Plunkett’s imagined ancestor/son & the infidelity of his history. "The great events of the world would happen elsewhere."
  • 112-113—Plunkett’s history project as a boy: "In those days, history was easy."
  • 130—Achille drags up a body like the ghost of his father
  • 133ff.—Achille’s dream journey to African past
  • 137-138—What the Caribbean has forgotten in naming
  • 140ff.—History ahead
  • 155-156—300 years pass for Achille
  • 161-164—Achille’s vision of himself as a Buffalo solider & his questions about the Aruac artifact.
  • 174ff.—The North American history of empire
  • 177-179—The connections between Greek, Roman, and American slavery.
  • 182-184—Museums, where "Art has surrendered/ to History with its whiff of formaldehyde."
  • Bk 5—Walcott encounters the colonial past in Europe (see more below)
  • 217—No power to change the imperial past
  • 227-229—History as nostalgia; poetry’s role in this.
  • 238-239—The history of the plant carried in the stomach of the swift.
  • 242ff.—Ma Kilman’s return to origins to obtain the medicine
  • 247-248—Eden and return for Philoctete
  • 258—The Major walks in the footsteps of the Midshipman.
  • 271—No need for history or literature to understand Helen.
  • 276-277—Philoctete’s return to pain at/for the past.
  • 288--Walcott and Seven Seas look on the Battle of Saints
  • 295-297—The sea and history
  • 303ff.—The Major recalls past moments with Maud
  • 309—The Major gives up his history of the island.
  • 312—312—The problem of framing the island in epic, classical past
  • 313-315—The Battle of the Saints and its losses.
  • 319—319—East and West interlocked.
Book 5--The Lessons of The Great Cities
Lisbon The division of the New World was once between Portugal and Spain, but now on this coast the imperial past has been forgotten.
London The Thames as at the center of empire which ignores its margins, and the London tours are mythmakers
Dublin They have a history, language, and faith, but also violence and division.
Greece Has an epic, mythic connection with the poem; the Odysseus myth reread.
Istanbul & Venice The alienation of European artistic heritage.
Rome Slavery
Concord The colonial action of the U.S. toward African slaves and Indians.
Boston Harbor The New England past had its own chains in the Puritans and the Transcendentalists.
Toronto Polish poets in exile.

"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding