On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer(C.a)

Topics: Poetry, John Keats, Sonnet Pages: 4 (1159 words) Published: May 25, 2013
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On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
Much 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-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 star'd 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" is a sonnet by English Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821) written in October 1816. It tells of the author's astonishment at reading the works of the ancient Greek poet Homer as freely translated by the Elizabethan playwright George Chapman. The poem has become an often-quoted classic, cited to demonstrate the emotional power of a great work of art, and the ability of great art to create anepiphany in its beholder. -------------------------------------------------

Background information
Keats' generation was familiar enough with the polished literary translations of John Dryden and Alexander Pope, which gave Homer an urbane gloss similar to Virgil, but expressed in blank verse or heroic couplets. Chapman's vigorous and earthy paraphrase (1616) was put before Keats by Charles Cowden Clarke, a friend from his days as a pupil at a boarding school in Enfield Town. They sat up together till daylight to read it: "Keats shouting with delight as some passage of especial energy struck his imagination. At ten o'clock the next morning, Mr. Clarke found the sonnet on his breakfast-table." -------------------------------------------------

The "realms of gold" in...
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