Posts Tagged ‘hadn’t i made their poverty my paradise?’

Some Final Notes

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
  • This blog will close for graded work on Saturday, April 27, at midnight.   Except for your final paper and presentation, no work will be accepted for grading after this time.
  • Your final paper should be submitted to me ELECTRONICALLY (note that this is a change), as an email attachment or google docs link, not one minute later than NOON on Tuesday, April 30.  My comments and your grade will be returned to you by email.
  • Our final exam presentations will be on Tuesday, April 30.  We will start at 9:00 a.m. rather than at 8:30 a.m.

Schedule Reminders

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Thursday, March 28, class will not meet.

Annotated bibliographies are due hard copy to my dept. mailbox or office door no later than 4:30 p.m. that day.

My hand message washed off but here you go anyway

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

People, I am feeling… unnerved?  dissatisfied?  disappointed?  [insert UN and DIS words] that we are struggling with Omeros so much.  It is a hard poem.  But it’s also a stunning poem.  And this is an advanced seminar.   You don’t have to like it (but thank you, Kristina!).  But you should be working harder to understand it, to think about its purpose and intention.  You should be blogging about it, even if you are posing questions.  So let’s see some better work in our last week on Walcott.

Some lingering issues:

literary/epic precursors:  We talked about the Melville exchange in class, but a few others are important to Book V as well.  What do you make of the narrator’s encounter with James Joyce (200-201) and his imaginative rendering of the Odyssey (200-204)?

What is going on with our fluid Seven Seas/Omeros/griot/shaman/London man/etc. figure?  What do the manifestations have in common?  What is the purpose of this figure in the poem?

portrait of America: In Books IV and V, we get reflections on present-day America and historical America: Boston, the American West, Native American history, the history of slavery and current race relations.  How are they portrayed individually or what is America’s role more broadly?

poem’s (in)coherence: In class, people expressed confusion about how to bring together all of the parts of this poem: Plunketts, narrator, Achille/Helen/Hector etc.  Ideas?

same old, same old:  I, too, am sick of father-son stories (thanks a lot, Shakespeare, Disney, and everything in between).  But we’ve got another.  Warwick-narrator.  Plunkett-missing son-historical Plunkett.  Afolabe-Achille.  Discuss.

language:  French creole.  English creole.  Standard English.  Anachronistic Black Dialect.  (Others?)   Are there patterns of usage?  Where and why are certain languages employed?  Also, have you noticed that nature “talks” in the poem?  Walcott repeatedly describes nature using communicative words (e.g., garrulous, talkative, cry, pass on, making signs, calligraphy); how does that fit in?

form/genre:  This is our first truly narrative long poem.  Our genre theorists talked about the influences of lyric, epic, novel, drama on the long poem.  How can we characterize Walcott’s use of these or other generic forms and expectations?

There is more but that will do.

Sarah’s Bridge to the Blog

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

In class today we briefly talked about the mythological backgrounds of the characters referenced in Omeros so (because I took five years of Latin and am currently in a Greek Mythology class) I decided I’d dig deep to see if I could find even more curious connections between some of Walcott’s characterizations and the characters themselves. Hope this is enlightening:

Achilles was the hero of Homer’s Illiad. He was a great warrior whose only bodily weakness was on his left heel. Achilles was killed by an arrow to his left heel shot by Paris, son of the King Priam of Troy. He was the son of Peleus and the Nereid Thetis. Thetis attempted to render him immortal by dipping him in the River Styx but was unsuccessful because she left his left heel dry. (It was prophesized when he was an infant that he would be instrumental in the eventual fall of Troy.)

Hector was King Priam’s eldest son and became Achilles’ greatest enemy when he killed Achilles’ companion Patroclus in the Trojan War. Some accounts have Hector mistaking Patroclus for Achilles because Patroclus was wearing Achilles’ armor. (In this version of things, Achilles was sort of having a hissy fit and not fighting with the Greeks because Agamemnon had taken his war “prize” Briseis from him.) Mistaken or not, Hector was killed by Achilles who then dragged Hector’s body behind his chariot as retribution for Patroclus’ death and rejoined the war effort. King Priam was forced to beg Achilles for the return of the body of his son.

Helen (of Troy) was said to be the most beautiful woman of her time. Helen was married to the Greek Menelaus but later either ran off with Paris or was abducted by him (accounts differ).  This triggered the Trojan War. The Greeks were lead by Menlaus’ brother Agamemnon. Polydeuces and Castor (the Dioscuri) were her brothers. (Fun but irrelevant fact: She had a daughter named Hermione! Gah! Harry Potter!)

Philoctetes sailed with seven ships to lay siege to Troy along with his fellow Greeks. He was wounded en route on an island by a snake. Because the wound was festering and apparently smelly his comrades abandoned him on another island, Lemnos, for 10 years. He was the possessor of the hero Heracles’ bow and arrows (which apparently never missed their mark). A prophesy stated  Troy would not fall without the aid of this bow and as a result Philoctetes was rescued, taken to Troy and healed by Machaon.

Machaon was a well known healer (along with his brother Polidarius) who led a group of Thessalonians in the Trojan War. As mentioned above, he was responsible for healing Philoctetes’ wound upon his arrival to Troy.

After her two brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, fought and killed one another in a battle for her father’s throne Antigone disobeyed the new king Creon by performing a ritual burial for Polynices (the brother who the new king has stated would not be afforded that right because he has attacked the city of Thebes). At the end of her story, she has committed suicide which then leads to her betrothed, Haemon (Creon’s son) committing suicide which then leads to Creon’s wife, Eurydice, committing suicide.

Achilles led a large group of Myrmidons in the Trojan War. The Myrmidons came into existence when Aeacus (one of Zeus’s many sons) begged Zeus to populate and protect the island Aegina while gazing at an ant hill. Aegina was apparently created at Zeus’ behest as well. He had a son named Telamon.

The Argonauts were the men (and maybe women) who accompanied Jason on his quest for the Golden Fleece. Included among them were Heracles (great friend of Philoctetes), Telamon (son of Aeacus and brother of Peleus), Peleus (father of Achilles), Polydeuces, and Castor (brothers of Helen).

(Source (for the most part):




Triple Goddess

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Last Tuesday I mentioned the representation of “the three goddesses” that Trilogy reminded me of in its first book. Dr. Scanlon entrusted me with taking this to the blog, so here I go – late as ever (seems to be a terrible pattern engulfing my life nowadays) – to explain the idea of the Triple Goddess. So, I’m going to start in modern day neopaganism and wiccanism and I will work my way back into history. I think that will be the coolest way for me to go about doing this.

The symbol above is a representation of the Maiden/Virgin, Mother, and Crone. In order, respectfully, there is a waxing moon representing enchantment and birth, a full moon representing fertility and power, and a waning moon representing death and wisdom. These are figures seem to have come from the three goddesses of the moon from Greek mythology – Artemis (virgin goddess of the hunt), Selene (mother), and Hecate (a wise old witch).

Hecate was also involved in another triple goddess formation when she became involved with Demeter’s search for Persephone when the young girl was abducted to the Underworld. Hecate helped to commence the search, and once the deal was struck, accompanied Persephone down to Hades annually. Hecate – Older woman or crone. Demeter – Mother. Persephone – Maiden.

Hecate on her own was/is also represented by three separate figures that combine to create a unified figure. She is a goddess of the Underworld responsible for witchcraft and darkness. On her own, she already has the three “phases” of the moon mentioned in today’s modern day neopaganist and wiccan religions – facing three different directions, Hecate is symbolic of three different natures of Woman. She is not only the goddess associated with darkness and witchcraft, but childbirth, protection, and motherhood, despite being a virgin goddess.

Hecate was also something of an equivalent to Isis in Egyptian myth.

BUT continuing the importance of the Triple Goddess –

the ever-mentioned Astarte in our poem also had her very own place in a 3xGoddess formation. With Qudshu (Qetesh/Athirat/Asherah) as the mother figure (sexual pleasure and fertility), and Anat as the maiden (virgin goddess of war), Astarte played the crone (representative of divinity, reproductive power of nature, and war) kind of combining the maiden and the mother into one. She was almost directly adapted into Aphrodite – her Phoenecian association with the “star” Venus stuck with her. Wikiepedia says that Astarte was also “one of the Canaanite deities whom the Israelites must abhor.” If only I knew more about the Bible…

Anyway – that’s the gist of it. Now that I’ve read the entire poem, I actually think I see a way that this idea of a triple goddess can be connected to the poem. But it is indeed far-fetched.

This is definitely a poem that I am going to wish we could spend forever on, but as it is, I know I’ll just have to come back to it later and get to know it just a little bit better. It’s so wonderful and full of gumph!

Welcome to the Seminar on American Long Poems

Monday, January 14th, 2013

In many ways, the blog is like a long poem: it can transcend chronological logic; it is potentially sprawling and may or may not stay firmly on topic; it requires a lot of work; it can accommodate many voices and discourses and even different media; it could develop in fragments or a coherent trajectory; it is hard to predict exactly where it will end; it could be a work of genius or a flaming disaster.  Have at it.