In this installment, Robert Thomas reads “On first looking into Chapman’s Homer” by John Keats. Thomas’s Door to Door (Fordham University Press, 2002) was chosen by Yusef Komunyakaa as the winner of the Poets Out Loud Prize. He received a 2003 poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and his poem “Quarter Past Blue” appeared in the 2004 Pushcart Prize anthology. His most recent book of poems, Dragging the Lake, is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press. He has an MFA from Warren Wilson College. He and his wife live in South San Francisco. Learn more about Thomas’s work here.
John Keats, “On first looking into Chapman’s Homer”
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 stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.