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I was reading about the Darien Gap, nigh-impassable swamp at the south end of Central America. Moderately interesting on its own. But the page ends with "It is also mentioned in John Keats' poem 'On First Looking into Chapman's Homer'"

So I read the latter page, which has not just the poem, a paean to Chapman's translation opening Homer up to those who don't know Greek, but analysis of the poem's allusions.

"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."

new planet -- Uranus
Cortez -- actually Balboa
Darien -- Darien

I'm not new to classic poetry referring to modern (for its time) science; I used to be really into John Donne, who had a lot of this. But I'm still impressed by such things.

I also realized that for all my timeline work, I had no real idea when Keats lived. Connecting him to Chapman and Uranus didn't really help, either, though I would have guessed Uranus discovery to be mid-late 1800s. Nope! Keats 1795-1821, poem 1816, Uranus 1781. Which also sounds familiar, hmm. Clearly my art and history time sense needs work.

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Damien Sullivan
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