On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

Notes on On First Looking into Chapman's Homer by John Keats

(A petrarchan sonnet)
One octave and one sestet– very structured
abba abba cdcdcd structure
Its mythological– form echoes theme
Allegorical poem- characters and events represent particular qualities/ ideas related to religion/politics.

Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,

Rich and high of status

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been

Sounding like he's trying to be clever– sarcastic?

Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft on one wide expanse had I been told

Exploring new territories

That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene

Reference to his illness of TB

Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

Change of tone (volta)- mood shifts. Language and tone is bolder

When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes

Visionary– foresee the future
Cortez– parallel to Keats?

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.

Keats is alone– no one understands what he feels. The hyphens extend the idea of waiting– a pause that could last for eternity.

Contrast between loud and silent– reflective like in the water of the pacific

Semantic field of royalty


On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer (1816)- Worksheet

1- How is this an Allegorical poem? (it deals with a specific historical event- can you figure out which? - but uses this to comment symbolically on other contexts.


2- What is the key metaphor in this poem? Look at the other similies used. Who or what is 'the poet' compared to and why is this appropriate?


3- What type of sonnet is this? Work out the form, metre and rhythm.


4- The 'volta' is where a turn/change in tone and topic occurs in a sonnet; where does this happen?


5- How could the opening address to the 'realms of gold' be a political comment? (more than just a reference to the literature Keats has read and admired.


6- How is the sense of enormous awe experienced by the explorer Cortez (and thus Keats in literary terms) expressed to the reader? Look at the phonology and how the pace/tempo changes...

 


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 on one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd 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.



© Keats' Kingdom 2004 - - All rights reserved.
Feel free to use any content here for study purposes, essays, reports etc.
But if you farm any content for use on other websites, I will know about it. Trust me.