by John Keats (1795 - 1821)

On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer
Language: English 
Much have I travelled 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-browed 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 Cortes when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific — and all his men
  Looked at each other with a wild surmise —
  Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Confirmed with The Book of the Sonnet, ed. by Leigh Hunt and S. Adams Lee, London, Sampson Low, Son, & Marston, 1867.

Note included in the above edition, line 12: “Stared” has been thought by some too violent, but it is precisely the word required by the occasion. The Spaniard was too original and ardent a man either to look, or to affect to look, coldly superior to it. His “eagle eyes” are from life, as may be seen by Titian’s portrait of him.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2020-04-15
Line count: 14
Word count: 113