John Keats (1795-1821): On First Looking into Chapman's Homer – Lipogram

Translated by Timothy Adès

On First Looking Into Chapman’s Translation
by Adonais

Much 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.
I 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
Said at PitC Drop–in, Daunts/Simpsons Bookshop, Piccadilly, London, W1.
Contributed to Poetry Atlas website.

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