The Lumber Room

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Archive for July 19th, 2010

Why good translations matter

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Sonnet by Keats, On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer. Keats was familiar with other translations of Homer, such as the one by Pope, but reading Chapman’s work was a different experience altogether:

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.

Written by S

Mon, 2010-07-19 at 11:35:00

Posted in literature