The Bicentenary of John Keats
Written on the Bicentenary of the Death of John Keats
24 February 2021
Inspired by an excellent Radio 4 series commemorating the poet, I searched for a travel-related Sonnet. This one recalls not only the world of Homer but ends in Darien: a link to the memory of our late friend Ian Hibell and his legendary crossing of the Darien Gap by bicycle.
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
John Keats, 1816
“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."