Gateway to the Classics: Poems Every Child Should Know by Mary E. Burt
Poems Every Child Should Know by  Mary E. Burt

On First Looking into Chapman's "Homer"

"On First Looking Into Chapman's 'Homer,'" by John Keats (1795-1821). The last four lines of this sonnet form the most tremendous climax in literature. The picture is as vivid as if done with a brush. Every great book, every great poem is a new world, an undiscovered country. Every learned person is a whole territory, a universe of new thought. Every one who does anything with a heart for it, every specialist every one, however simple, who is strenuous and genuine, is a "new discovery." Let us give credit to the smallest planet that is true to its own orbit.

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-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 stared at the Pacific—and all his men

Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

John Keats.

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