View Full Version : Omeros

05-31-2015, 06:42 AM
As I read a short account of Billy Blue, the blind singer of Walcott’s imagination, I hungered for more, and so, abandoning my struggle with Chikungunya, I hobbled west along the asphalt artery of Eastern Main Road as it sliced through the commune of ‘Puna’, to the book shop on the campus at St Augustin. The bright rays reflected from the white foam which capped my head. However, the golden glow of my outer-self was paled into insignificance by the brilliance of the myriad, mahogany shades of my younger, fellow travellers. Curious, bright-eyes set between high foreheads and raised cheekbones were accompanied by the salutation of flashing teeth full of the exuberance of youth. I roamed the bookshelves and settled on the literature section. There it was in ancient Greek, Omeros, Homer. Casually flipping through the pages I discovered the names of Achille, Hector and Helen. This must be it. Off I went.

I settled on a convenient bench under the parasol shade of a giant Acacia tree. The sounds of the mixed group of athletes frivolously competing on the field, faded into oblivion leaving only the song of the yellow Kiskadee for company as they read over my shoulder from the boughs and branches above. Absorbed as I was, it took an hour or so of following the movements of the canoe-borne characters of Achille and Hector, as they fished the same troughs where the doomed Caribs had wandered generations before, that I realized that Blind Billy Blue wouldn’t be joining me and my feathered friends. That was because he was busy making an appearance in that other literary working of Walcott, The Odyssey. However, this was compelling reading and I could always seek out Blind Billy another time.

06-04-2015, 01:31 AM
Having read English translations of both the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" I can but sympathise.
Whilst reasonably familiar with footnotes in the original Greek, (just as with footnotes in Heigel in both Greek and Hoch Deutsche, and Latin), I'm very aware that nonetheless there are margins of error present in so-far as nuances either implied or explicit.
Even so, perhaps unusually for my Generation (1963), I greatly enjoyed both proffered works.
If not strictly accurate ( but who could debate that in realistic terms, these days?), the referred works provide at least a semi-reliable glimpse into part of the then-known world and personalities and events of the referred eras.

I was trained as a historian (of sorts) but have become somewhat more of a historiographer by innate inclination.

As such, the "Quest for Knowledge" always remains, in various forms, but so-also does the delight in the acquisition thereof.

I wish You both continued success in Your researches and Enjoyment therein.

Kind and Respectful Regards 32Bravo,
and Blessed Be; Uyraell.

06-04-2015, 07:52 AM
Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea ... yes, at the core of Humanity. Unfortunately, it seems that the corporatization and managerialization of the world, and of education in particular, is killing the world of the Intellect. So sad ... Yours from the Tent of Achilles, JR.

06-04-2015, 03:52 PM
Yes, the Iliad and the Odyssey are great if you get a good translation. My preference is for Latimore. One shouldn't discount Virgil's Aeneid, either. Frederick Ahl's translation is a great piece of work.
Derek Walcott's Omeros is an adaptation. His characters are Caribbean island people. It is written as an epic poem and is a fabulous read. What better place to read it, than on the campus of the University of the West Indies at St Augustin, Trinidad?

At the moment I'm researching Pericles' Epitaphios Logos. In doing so, I'm currently reading about the tyranny of Peisistratos. Interestingly, he was the first to commission the writing down of Homer's epics. He also promoted their performance at the Great Panathenaic Festival. As some of you will know, the poems were performed as song with music. This helped the performer to remember his lines. Interesting point regarding snippets of historical insight gained from the poems. Again, as some of you will know, the insight is into the time of Homer, as opposed to the time of the Trojan War. One example is the description of the city of the Phaeachians. But there is so much more.

Anyway, I mustn't ramble. Love the quote of the 'Wine dark sea'

Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven far journeys, after he sacked Troy's citadel!

06-06-2015, 12:53 PM
I managed to find the prologue of Walcott’s Odyssey. When it was first performed in 1993, it was sung in blues. However, I heard this read by a Caribbean fella and he performed it with a Caribbean accent. Not unlike that of Rasta-speak, “Jamaica iri”
This is not a direct translation, but Walcott’s own version. Blind billy Blue is Walcott's version of the blind poet, Homer, obviously. He also alludes to Homer’s Dawn and Penelope, with his reference to ‘rosy fingers’ and the ‘unstitching’. Also, he blends the opening line of Homer in perfectly in the
ancient-Greek, and even refers to the Hexameter. Very clever and very enjoyable in my opinion.

Act One: prologue
Billy Blue (sings)
Gone sing ‘bout that man because his stories please us,
Who saw trials and tempests for ten years after Troy.

I’m Blind Billy Blue, my main man’s sea-smart Odysseus,
Who the God of the Sea drove crazy and tried to destroy

Andre moi ennpe mousa polutropon hos mala polla…
The shuttle of the sea moves back and forth on this line,

All night, like the surf, she shuttles and doesn’t fall
Asleep, then her rosy fingers at dawn unstitch the design.
When you hear this chord
Look for a swallow’s wings,
A swallow arrowing seaward like a messenger

Passing smoke-blue islands, happy that the kings
Of Troy are going home and its ten years’ siege is over.

So my blues drifts like smoke from the fire of that war,
Cause once Achilles was ashes, things sure fell apart.

Slow-striding Achilles, who put the hex on Hector
A swallow twitters in Troy. That’s where we start.

06-06-2015, 10:28 PM
Beautifully done. I enjoyed that.

Many Thanks Bravo32,

Kind and Respectful Regards, Uyraell.

06-07-2015, 06:58 AM
Glad you liked it, Uyraell. I've ordered a copy from Amazon, .160 in used paperback.

One of the problems I have with the various academic hypotheses by writers such as Stobart and Finley (among others) on the identity of Homer and the suggestions that the, in someways, differing styles and empshises between the two poems suggests that they were composed by different authors. However, as there is also the argument that the copying of the poems across the millennia, in places such as Alexandria, Rome and Byzantium, that the differences might have arisen through the differing skills of the individual scribes or the desires (perhaps political) of those commissioning the copies. This could also have been compounded by translation from Greek to Latin etc. One might argue that the earliest edited copies (reputedly commissioned by Peisistratos) might also have taken the Odyssey off in a different direction to the Illiad. Not unlike the meanderings of Odysseus himself.

Still, it is interesting to consider the various arguments for and against there having been an individual, blind, singing poet named Homer - or should I say Omeros? :D