Insomnia takes you to strange places, looking on a whim for a painting to match the spirit of "Silent, upon a peak in Darien".
What makes Homer, Homer for those previous generations? That classical education which is two generations past now? I've never quite felt that reverence or connection for the shadowy Ionian that that vet and his predecessors held for him. A Homeric literary foundation is kind of unusual in Americans, even in the old days. Allan Bloom claimed that Americans made the Bible their cultural touchstone, in the way that the British made Homer and the Greeks, and the French Pascal and Proust and Descartes, and the Germans Kant and Goethe and Hegel.
BTW, this is the painting I had in mind, Friedrich's "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog", it has nothing to do with the Keats sonnet, but then, a lot of the literature on that poem has to do with the inaccuracy of his factual constructs, and the importance of a pre-rational, emotional connection with literary culture.
"Darien" was drifting in my mind's eye from tonight's reading of a crummy Penguin Books collection of extracts from Lord Macaulay's History of England, specifically about the doomed Scottish venture in Darien. Paterson, the visionary who also gave the Bank of England to the southrons, had this bright idea about inserting a Scottish commercial colony in the debatable lands between the viceroyalties of New Grenada and New Spain. Sadly, his Darien was as phantasmic as Keats' Panamanian Cortez, and all such transoceanic trade plans for the Panamanian isthmus were scotched by ferocious disease gradients until the early twentieth century's advances in pest control conquered those difficulties, if only to a degree.