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Poems Every Child Should Know by  Mary E. Burt


 

 

ON FIRST LOOKING INTO CHAPMAN'S "HOMER"

[326] "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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