cover image Omeros


Derek Walcott / Author Farrar Straus Giroux $30 (325p) ISBN 97

This magnificent modern epic by poet-playwright Walcott ( The Arkansas Testament ) follows the wanderings of a present-day Odysseus and the inconsolable sufferings of those who are displaced and traveling with trepidation toward their homes. Written in seven circling books and magically fluid tercets, the poem illuminates the classical past and its motifs through an extraordinary cast of contemporary characters from the island of Santa Lucia: humble fishermen Achilles, Philoctete and Hector; a feverishly beautiful house servant, Helen, who incites her own Trojan War; a local seer, Seven Seas; and the narrator himself, who wanders to the States, to Europe and back again although he knows, ``the nearer home, the deeper our fears increase, / that no house might come to meet us on our own shore.'' Singularly ambitious, and as moving as the works of its namesake, Omeros (Greek for ``Homer'') remains accessible despite its complexity and divergent strains, which include the privations of Native Americans, African natives and exiled English colonials. (July)