Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday sonnet: John Keats

Today, I offer a fantastic expression of the awe a poet feels when reading an exceptional work of literature (in this case, a translation of Homer's works done by George Chapman). Keats's experience was written down in sonnet form in 1816, and I include this poem because I like it, and because it contains a well-known goof on the author's part.

"On First Looking into Chapman's Homer"

Much have I traveled 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 Cortez 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.

Rhyme scheme: abba abba cdcdcd

No comments: