Book Five: Walcott in Europe and North America (The Great Cities)


  • Walcott visits Lisbon and compares its coast to Port of Spain's. On a Sunday, he reflects on the beginning of the slave trade here.
  • Walcott recalls how Pope Alexander divided the New World between Spain and Portugal, and he thinks on his own European ancestry and heritage.
  • Looking at the bronze horsemen at the wharf, he notices how the imperial past has been forgotten here.


  • Next, Walcott visits London where he sees Omeros as a derelict clutching his epic in hand. Omeros is turned out by the churchwarden.
  • Walcott looks on the London statuary along the Thames, a center of the empire which ignored the shadows of its colonized margins.
  • The tours of London are mythmakers and symbols of power. (Epic catalog)


  • Now Walcott visits Dublin. He weighs the good and bad of being Irish--having a history, language, and faith from which to draw vs. the continued division and violence.
  • A passage in tribute to Joyce on Ireland.
  • Along the Liffey, Walcott encounters the ghost of James Joyce, who he treats as another manifestation of Omeros.


  • In Greece, along the Aegean coast, Walcott sees Odysseus and his crew.
  • Untrusting of Odysseus, the crew is a "black crew," who have wandered from Africa.
  • Walcott travels to Istanbul and Venice, which are other examples of the alienating weight of cities and the European heritage of art and literature.


  • Perhaps in Rome, Walcott reflects on the Roman use of Greek slaves, as well as the Greek and U.S. practice of slaves.
  • Walcott returns to North America and Concord. He ponders still again his dual heritage, the imperial actions of the U.S. toward slaves and Indians, and sees that colonial heritage even in the landscape.
  • Walcott goes to Boston Harbor and ponders the Pilgrims and the Transcendentalists of the New England past with its chains of a subtler type.


  • In Toronto, Walcott talks to Nina, a Polish immigrant waitress, and thinks of her memories of Polish oppression. He recalls great Polish poets who have had to accept exile.
  • It is November, and Walcott imagines Weldon running before a wintry past of oppression.
  • The ghost dance is about to begin.


  • Weldon looks at the massacre at the ghost dance.
  • She recalls the enslavement of Indians. As a kind of mouthpiece for Walcott, she sees a shaman as Omeros, and she is Helen among the dead.
  • Weldon ponders that history cannot be changed. Walcott tells her that the winter of civilizations obliterates the past. He looks for Nina but can't remember her address.