Skip to main content Skip to navigation

WikiOmeros: Context


Follow-up to Cadence Country Reggae from WikiOmeros

Cadence (or cadence-lypso) is a French Antillean dance music highly popular in St Lucia in the 1970s. Unlike the English language calypso, it is a French Creole-based form originating in Dominica and Guadeloupe and a development of Haitian Creole compas (or konpas direk). It was one of the forms that later were blended into the zouk (‘party’) form popular in the 1980s. The early lyrics of cadence often dealt with social issues and as such it was more of a political form than zouk, which developed largely as entertainment music. In St Lucia the political aspect was less strong, possibly because of difficulty in understanding other Creole dialects, and the music was more of an excuse for Jump Up (street party). The cadence style is claimed to be developed in Guadeloupe by the group Exile One led by Dominican musician Julie Mourillon and for a while became the main dance music of Dominica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St Lucia and other French Creole islands.

His cripple (2.XX.ii).

Possibly a reference to Caliban, Prospero's slave in Shakespeare's The Tempest. Minkler (1993) discusses other allusions to the play in Omeros (see Critical Bibliography).

MacArthur's vow as he left: 'Moi shall return' (2.XX.ii).

General Douglas MacArthur was one of the most decorated soldiers in US history (Bib:33). In 1944, he took back the Philippines, fulfilling his earlier vow to return, 'I shall return', changed by The Office of War Information to 'We shall return' (Bib:34).

I felt transported,/… to a place I had lost/…//It was another country (2.XXXII.ii).

This refers to the theme of 'uprootedness', a reminder that nobody on the island is an original inhabitant; everyone is displaced and not at home. The verb 'transported' also echoes the noun 'transport', the term used for Hector's vehicle, the Comet, which symbolises his exchange of the traditional St Lucian values for a modern Westernised lifestyle.

Marian Home (3.XXXII.i).

The name of the retirement home where Walcott-the-Narrator’s mother lives.