Homer, The Odyssey I: 1-11, Trans. George Chapman, 1608/1616
The man, O Muse, inform, that many a way
Wound with his wisdom to his wished stay;
That wandered wondrous far, when he the town
Of sacred Troy had sack'd and shivered down;
The cities of a world of nations,
With all their manners, minds, and fashions,
He saw and knew; at sea felt many woes,
Much care sustained, to save from overthrows
Himself and friends in their retreat for home;
But so their fates he could not overcome,
Though much he thirsted it.
Homer begins with an invocation of the Muse, by whose power he says he can sing, and introduces Odysseus' primary characteristics (wisdom, curiosity, deviousness, martial prowess, suffering and loyalty), as well as his ultimate fate. The syntax defines "The man" in this series of attributes while the outcome of the poet's address to the Muse remains suspended. To read the rest in Chapman's translation, as Keats did, click here for a version at Bartleby.com. In any translation, it's one of the best-crafted and most insightful stories ever told.