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.

- John Keats

Keats, like most of his contemporaries, knew Homer only through the translations of Alexander Pope. Much Elizabethan literature had not been reprinted, and was therefore hard to come by. Cowden Clake, a friend and former tutor, had managed to borrow a 1616 folio of George Chapman's translation of Homer through Leigh Hunt. Keats and Clarke pored over the calf-skin folio until dawn, rereading favorite passages, amazed at how Chapman's translation brought the stories to new life.

When Keats got home, he wrote this sonnet, and then sent a copy by messenger to Clarke, who found it on his table when he came down to breakfast a few hours later.

Incidently, none of Keats' contemporaries noticed the historical error. Alfred Lord Tennyson was the first to point out that it was Balboa, and not Cortez, who was the first European to discover the Pacific Ocean.

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