Friday, September 26, 2014

QotD: "He stared at the Pacific ... Silent, upon a peak in Darien" - Keats

2014.09.21-IMG_1586MUCH 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.
On first looking into Chapman's Homer - John Keats

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Needless to say, it was not Cortez, but Balboa who gazed upon the Pacific from the Isthmus ... in fact, it was on this date in 1513 (501 years ago) that Balboa's eagle eyes looked upon the Pacific. Here's a description from a much later book:
"Balboa now set out on what was to be the most famous event of his life. He had been promised the sight of a great ocean to the south, after he had climbed certain mountains. Various Indian oppositions developed, but on the 26th of September, 1513, at about ten o'clock in the morning,  Balboa and his men, from the top of a high mountain, saw for the first time the waters of the vast Pacific. The priest of the expedition, named Andreas de Vara, chanted a Te Deum, with the entire company on their knees. A cross was raised, and the names of the Spanish rulers carved on the surrounding trees." Prowling about Panama by George A. Miller (New York, 1919)

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