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The Lyrics

Andrew Motion spent six years writing a biography of the English Romantic poet John Keats, who died in 1821, when he was just 25. He chose to write about his experience of reading Keats's poetry for the first time, when he was a school boy of sixteen.

On First Looking Into Keats's Poems, by Andrew Motion
On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer, by John Keats

On First Looking Into Keat's Poems by Andrew Motion
 Hear the poem |  Biography
Sixteen or so, I took your book outside
and read it to the living wind and sun
until your here-and-now was far-and-wide.
I saw the stained glass colours start to run
back to the scenes from which they started out:
those antique rooms where love decides its fate;
the banished rulers with their cut-off shout;
a god discovering his power too late… .

Now what felt young in you has come of age
through time you never had, but kept in view,
and here's your book again. Each deep-dyed page
still shows me what is beautiful and true:
old artifice connecting head to heart;
new planets orbiting a world apart.

On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer, by John Keats
 Hear how Keats's poem inspired Andrew Motion

Much have I travelled 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-browed 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
Looked at each other with a wild surmise -
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Andrew Motion

Poets on the Lyrics

 Andrew Motion

 Jackie Kay

 Paul Muldoon

 Fleur Adcock

Further Links

 Andrew Motion's RSA

 Biography of Andrew

 The Game by Andrew

 John Keats - Biography and

 Keats on the BBC Site

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