Poems With Similes
This chapter opens up a dialogue between recent scholarship on Homeric similes, and the creative use of these similes in the poetry of Christopher Logue, Michael Longley, and Derek Walcott. In its reading of the modern poems, it analyzes how the Homeric simile is used to map the distance between Homeric epic and 20th-century poetry. Similes are among the most memorable features of Homeric epic: the chapter argues that their expressive force derives as much from their dissimilarity to the main narrative as from the parallels that they suggest. It demonstrates how Logue and Longley exploit this aspect of the Homeric simile in order to express their difference from, as well as their affinity with, Homer. In the case of Walcott, it discusses Walcott's sparing but striking use of Homeric similes, which simultaneously master the form while also signalling ambivalence about the poem's relationship with Homeric epic.