Book One--Introduction (St. Lucia)


l. Philoctete shows his wound to the tourists, as well as the cutting of the trees for canoes.
ll. The cutting of the trees is treated as a sacrificing of the gods. We observe canoe building, including the naming of Achille's canoe, as  In God We Troust, a mistake with real truth in it.  The Aruaks, the island's original inhabitants are mentioned in passing.
lll. We see the happiness of Achille as he prepares to fish in the ocean.


l. Philoctete's wound is discussed in more detail, and we learn of the names that the fishermen give their canoes.
ll. Seven Seas, the blind Homer-figure is introduced.  Likewise, Omeros as a figure is invoked:   "O open this day with the conch's moan, Omeros/as you did in my boyhood, when I was a noun/gently exhaled from the palate of the sunrise."  Omeros becomes a figure of colonial history who, "scanned the opening line of our epic horizon."
lll. Antigone teaches Walcott to pronounce "Omeros."  The name strikes him as representative of Antilles and of the past.


l. A duel of Hector and Achille, on the surface about bailing tin, but really over Helen.
ll. Ma Kilman's No Pain Café, where Seven Seas and Philoctete are often helped.
lll.   Philoctete believes his wound is the wound of history.


l. Philoctete visits his yam garden.  There, he treats his crop as if they were colonial oppressors.
ll. Philoctete, seeing the sea swift, asks God's pardon and decides to endure.
lll. Walcott, while at a resort, observes Helen's beauty.


l. We are introduced to Major Plunkett and wife Maud.  The Major reflects on the history of colonialism, as well as his WWII experience. The Major has a wound as well.
ll. Plunkett recalls how he was wounded in action.  Walcott, as the narrator, explains that all the characters are expressions of a fictionally "I."  Plunkett reflects on his life with Maud.
lll. Maud distrusts Helen because the later stole a dress from her. The Major decides that Helen needs a history, one equal to a classical Trojan history.


l. Helen, who is pregnant, is looking for work.
ll. Helen must decide to confront change, and she thinks of the Beatles' song, Yesterday."
lll. Helen imagines a battle as she walks through the smoke.  Walcott reflects on having confronted her beauty once.


l. The marketplace is a polyglot of past and present.  Helen leaves Achille for Hector.
ll. Achille remembers when he had first suspected Helen and Hector.
lll.Achille recalls a happier time and compares it to his present grief.


I. We learn of the crusted wine bottle in the museum and the kind of faith that surrounds a belief in buried treasure. Achille dives for money to please Helen.
ll. A kind of descent to the Underworld.  Achille questions why he has come down.
lll. Philoctete tries to end the argument between Achille and Hector.


l. During hurricane season, Achille goes to work on Plunkett's pig farm and struggles with his thoughts of Helen.  Maud misses Ireland.
Il. Hector fails to save his canoe from the storm.
Ill. The hurricane is pictured as the gods having a fête.


l. The Major is depressed by the weather, reflecting on Maud's soon passing, etc.
Il. Plunketts travel in their Land Rover to the mountain named for Ma Kilman.  The landscape has the memory of the colonial atrocities of Bennett and Ward.
Ill. Plunkett prefers St. Lucia to old England, even though Maud has only partially made her peace with the island climate--in the form of gardens.


l. Plunkett decides to frame Helen's actions within the terms of colonial history and sets out to write a local history.
ll. Plunkett and Maud are separated by his research.
Ill. Maud reflects on the beauty of the place, esp. her house, but also Achille's canoe.


l. Walcott returns to his boyhood home, which is now a printer's.  He meets the ghost of his dead father, Warwick.
ll. He travels with his father's ghost on a tour.
Ill. Walcott looks on the ghosts of the past and admits to his disbelief in an afterlife.



l. Warwick takes Walcott to an old barbershop, whose barber was both an Adventist and a Garveyite.
ll. Warwick and Walcott look an ocean liner and reflect on the beauty and strength of black women.   Walcott is charged with giving voice to them.
Ill. The work and vocation of the poet.  Walcott's invocation/prayer to "O Thou, my Zero."

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"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