Text of the Poem

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.


  1. Darien is a narrow isthmus in Panama. The phrase signifies a moment of stillness and contemplation as if the poet is standing at the peak of intellectual discovery and looking out into a vast, unexplored realm.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. The Spanish explorer Hernán Cortez, who, upon reaching the Pacific Ocean, and his men were said to have been struck with awe and amazement.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. The poet compares himself to an astronomer discovering a new planet, highlighting the sense of awe and discovery he experienced upon reading Chapman's translation. This could also allude to the expanding intellectual horizons of the Romantic era.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. This line refers to poets who, in homage to the Greek god Apollo (patron of the arts), produced works inspired by classical literature.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. The volta (turn) of the poem happens early in this poem, while traditionally, the volta would happen in line 9 or later.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. This phrase suggests the vastness of the poet's intellectual exploration. "Realms of gold" could be metaphorical, representing the wealth of knowledge and literary treasures he has encountered.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. The poem is written as an Italian sonnet, with an octave (8 lines) and a sestet (6 lines).

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor