On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer
John Keats (1795-1821)
My lipogram, no letter E
On First Looking Into Chapman’s HomerMuch have I travell'd in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne; Yet did I never breathe its pure serene Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his ken; Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men Look'd at each other with a wild surmise— Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
On First Looking into Chapman's TranslationI got around, saw lots of lands of gold, Good kingdoms, many a top–class duchy too, And sundown islands (I was shooting through) Which bards as loan–stock from Apollo hold. On various occasions I was told About an old blind highbrow’s Timbuctoo: But always was as ignorant as you, Until Dan Chapman said it loud and bold. That did it! Say you watch a midnight sky: An unknown rock floats up into your bag! Or stout Balboa’s sharp rapacity Scans your Pacific, plants a Spanish flag, His troops agog with curiosity, Dumbstruck upon a Panamanian crag.
Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès