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This review is taken from PN Review 80, Volume 17 Number 6, July - August 1991.

NOBILITY. AND PEACE? Derek Walcott, Omeros (Faber & Faber) £9.99

Omeros is a long poem of seven books and sixty-four chapters, each with three sections of varying length, written (with the exception of one section) in energetic and often licentious pentameters that are set off in groups of three lines to suggest, perhaps, Dante's terza rima, though the rhyming, which employs both full and slant rhymes, is irregular and often intermittent, and Walcott does not think, as Dante does, in terms of three lines (sometimes doubled to six) as a syntactic unit; the verse owes more to the English masters of non-dramatic blank verse, and the conception of the paragraph, though Walcott prefers shorter and syntactically less elaborated sentences (at least not periodic sentences or sentences that display a high degree of hypotactic organization) in the interest of creating a more informal and contemporary immediacy that suits what critics of an earlier age might have described as the 'low' nature of his ostensible subject: the quarrel of two Caribbean fishermen over a woman. The sense is variously drawn out from one line into another, so that there is considerable variety of movement, but the poet will sometimes rely on what is a trick for the eye, and not a genuinely rhythmic device, to suggest continuing movement, as in:


with its porcelain Virgin in flowers and one
 arm
uplifted like a traffic signal to halt. Her
statue lurched, swaying ...


There are also many feminine endings of a more ...


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