In John Keats’ poem “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer,” Keats portrays a character that seems to have many personal conflicts after an epiphany, induced by “Chapman’s” words. The speaker of the piece shows his own development through visual imagery and direct shift, altogether contriving his conception of the situation at hand. After thorough explanation as to why the speaker chose his original opinion, he states clearly why and how he is changed. In this short, one-stanza Shakespearean sonnet, Keats provides a character that is both well-developed and personal, ultimately giving insight into a larger aspect of human understanding.
In the beginning of the poem, the speaker uses deep colors and other adjectives to describe his thoughts on the Homer’s writing. He felt that reading Homer was like traveling “in the realms of gold,” and he was told by others how profound the writer was. However, by restructuring his approach, he shifts to an even more intense understanding. His now more comparative and allegorical writing shows his new ideas on Homer. Not only is his diction outstanding, but his meaning is impeccable. After having his eyes opened by Chapman’s recount of Homer, Keats’ character can see all sides of Homer’s excellence.
In a more vague sense, Keats uses a type of juxtaposition that is only applicable to the mind of the reader. By using as strong a word as “yet” to embark the shift, it almost seems as if the speaker will deny his previous thoughts. The character seems to present this conflict within himself; “never did I breathe its pure serene.” He makes it sound as if it is his fault he never appreciated it truly, when he has always felt passionately for Homer. His use of imagery before the shift develops his passion, and the shift occurs solely to intensify this passion. Contrary to other poets, Keats has found a way to manipulate the use of a shift for further development, rather than resolution to conflict.
“On First Looking into Chapman’s...
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