'My Name is Nobody': Postmodernism in Derek Walcott's 'The Schooner Flight'

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Tales of journeys appear repeatedly throughout the expanse of literature; these sagas include the stories of Gilgamesh, King Arthur, and, more recently, The Lord of the Rings. Derek Walcott’s poem “The Schooner Flight” initially seems out of place amongst these surging legends of heroics and danger, yet through closer examination the poem flourishes as a postmodern retelling then deconstruction of the age-old heroic journey. The poem is a celebration of Greek mythology, a disruptive force against established binaries, and a question of what constitutes identity. The construction of the poem represents a contradiction, as it is a Homeric pastiche yet it defies the very nature of the customary heroic journey. However, this contradiction is …show more content…
Tales of journeys appear repeatedly throughout the expanse of literature; these sagas include the stories of Gilgamesh, King Arthur, and, more recently, The Lord of the Rings. Derek Walcott’s poem “The Schooner Flight” initially seems out of place amongst these surging legends of heroics and danger, yet through closer examination the poem flourishes as a postmodern retelling then deconstruction of the age-old heroic journey. The poem is a celebration of Greek mythology, a disruptive force against established binaries, and a question of what constitutes identity. The construction of the poem represents a contradiction, as it is a Homeric pastiche yet it defies the very nature of the customary heroic journey. However, this contradiction is in fact imperative to the understanding of identity within “The Schooner Flight”. Derek Walcott’s poem embodies postmodern techniques by composing a transient narrative that constructs a homage to the epic journey then simultaneously ruptures it to reveal disruption of the grand narrative and of the composition of identity. Homer’s Odyssey and Walcott’s “The Schooner Flight” show striking similarities, and as Walcott’s poem is a postmodern piece, these similarities can be credited to the postmodern method of pastiche, which is “like parody, the imitation of a peculiar mask, speech in a dead language: but it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without any of parody's ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse” (Rose 18). In “The

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