Looking Into Chapmans Homer English Literature Essay

John Keats ‘ “ On First Looking into Chapman ‘s Homer ” is a sonnet in which he writes of the impact of reading Chapman ‘s interlingual rendition of Homer. Reading Chapman ‘s Homer did more than flicker Keats ‘ mind. Chapman ‘s Homer caused a monolithic detonation in Keats ‘ head which allowed him to compose as John Middleton Murray says “ one of the finest sonnets in the English linguistic communication ” ( Murray ) . In this paper I will demo that Keats writes the verse form ‘On First Looking into Chapman ‘s Homer after he had an epiphany as a consequence of reading Chapman ‘s interlingual rendition of Homer.

Born around the 8th – 9th century B.C. , Homer was an ancient Grecian Epic Poet who is credited with composing the heroic poem poems Iliad and Odyssey. Both verse forms were written during the Trojan War epoch and were built-in to the Grecian civilization. Interestingly, Homer was considered non-literate and it is said that scribes ‘wrote ‘ his verse forms for him. Homer ‘s travel was expansive. Proverbially, as it relates to his travel, he has seen many topographic points despite the fact that he was blind and could non see the topographic points in which his pess trod.

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George Chapman was an English poet, playwright, and transcriber during the Renaissance. He is most remembered as the poet who translated the plants of Homer. He was born in Hitchin around 1559. Chapman died in poorness in 1634, but left a affluent estate of composing for all to inherit.

John Keats, born in 1795, was an English Poet. He published three books of poesy. Keats lost both parents at a really immature age. Keats was non born into nobility, he was non rich, and hence was non really good educated. Most critics did non see Keats to be believable poet. Because he was hapless he could non get married the adult female he loved and merely achieved celebrity after his decease in 1821. Andrew Motion of the Richmond Review writes: “ The narrative of John Keats is one of the best known lives in literary history. His working category beginnings, hapless critical response and tragically early decease constitute a perfect design for a popular original of the Romantic Poet ” ( Motion ) .

The verse form “ On Looking into Chapman ‘s Homer ” was written after Keats and his friend Charles Cowden Clarke was given a transcript of Chapman ‘s Homer. Michael R. Richards provinces: “ Keats ‘s sonnet is a unfavorable judgment in illumination, a capsulated unfavorable judgment really much in melody with about all the Romantic critics ” ( Richards ) . Obviously, Keats used the verse form as a vehicle to uncover the concealed hoarded wealth of literary wealth sing Homer and his literary plants that was non mimed by Pope.

Keats uses the Italian ( Sonnet ) or Petrarchan signifier of the sonnet to construction his verse form. The eight, which is the first eight lines of the verse form, carries an abba abba rime strategy. The following six lines of the verse form, the six, have a rhyme strategy of cdcdcd. As expected, line 9 of the verse form introduces a alteration in the verse form, officially known as a Volta, normally called a bend. In the eight, Keats speaks of travels he experienced vicariously through his reading. Keats ‘ vivid imaginativeness allows him to come in into the pages of the books and the words were as flickers doing his mind to catch fire. In concert with the subject of Petrarchan sonnets, Keats uses the eight to present the job when he writes:

Oft of one broad sweep had I been told / That deep-brow ‘d Homer ruled as his estate / Yet did I ne’er breathe its pure serene / Till I heard Chapman talk out loud and bold. ( 5-8 )

First, it is suiting to look at the words used in the verse form. Keats uses linguistic communication that depicts expansive travel, major find, and an enriching sense of satisfaction. Using words like “ much ” , “ provinces ” , “ lands ” , “ many ” , and “ islands ” , he successfully communicates that his travel was plentiful and varied. Following, he intimates find by touching to astrologists happening new planets, and the imagination of Cortez ‘ first seeing the Pacific Ocean. Keats encapsulates the fact that he had heard of Homer and the euphory of the huge impact of the freshly acquired penetration by declaring:

Yet did I ne’er breathe its pure serene / Till I heard Chapman talk out loud and bold / Then felt I like some spectator 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. ( 6-11 )

Keats reading experiences in general, and more his specifically, reading of Chapman ‘s Homer was so fecund, that he could merely depict it in the six with metaphors and similes that bespeak magnificence of sweep, tallness and deepness. The overarching metaphor is reading presented as travel. Hiliary S. Brautigam, in her essay, “ Controlled Passion ” writes: “ Keats dramatically establishes the narrative with the collaring first line, pulling the reader into the overarching metaphor that encompasses the verse form ” ( Bressler ) . A surface reading of the verse form misleads the reader into believing that Keats is a adult male who has travelled to many topographic points. Keats writes:

Much have I travell ‘d in the kingdom of gold / And many goodly provinces and

lands seen. / Round many western islands have been / Which bards in allegiance to Apollo clasp. ( 1-4 )

A closer review of the verse form reveals that the word “ much ” quantifies travel that was done figuratively and non literally. So in this case there is a turn of sarcasm and there is besides the consummate usage of binary resistance whereby “ much ” is less in footings of Keats ‘ existent travel, but it is volumes in footings of travel through reading. The same command holds true for the construct of travel. As defined by Dictionary.Com to go is: “ to travel or travel from one topographic point or point to another ” ( Dictionary.com ) . Denotatively, the word travel means traveling between physical infinites ; nevertheless, in Keats ‘ instance, travel is non between physical infinites, but is over stat mis on mental projection. While Keats ‘ hero, Homer, though blind, travelled extensively, the huge bulk of Keats travel was in the infinite of his reading.

The farther usage of simile and metaphor makes an first-class segue for Keats ‘ usage of imagination. Keats writes: Then felt I like some spectator 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 work forces ( 9-12 ) . The simile “ spectator of the skies ” speaks of people who studied the scientific discipline of uranology. In the historical context, ‘watchers of the skies ‘ or, astrologists are people who studied the skies. Harmonizing to Chris Lawton, “ From around 3000 BC onwards, uranology in its most crude signifier had developed ” ( Lawton ) . In the spiritual context, ‘watchers of the skies ‘ were called Egyptian Magi, wise work forces, who were able to look at the skies and derive the cognition and wisdom to foretell events. The spiritual value of Magi can be found throughout the Holy Bible. For illustration, Matthew, in Matthew 2:1, 7 writes: “ Now when Jesus was born aˆ¦there came wise work forces from the E to Jerusalem ‘ Then Herod aˆ¦ enquired of them diligently what clip the star appeared ( Matthew ) . Therefore, Keats ‘ dictum that he felt like a “ spectator of the skies ” strongly implies the grade of admiration and astonishment he felt when reading Chapman ‘s interlingual rendition of Homer. It was, for Keats, as though he became cognizant of a ‘celestial event ‘ .

Interestingly, the rubric of the verse form “ On First Looking into Chapman ‘s Homer ” the accent on ‘Chapman ‘s Homer ‘ alludes to the fact that Keats was cognizant of the reading of Homer as translated by the English Poet, Alexander Pope. Michael Richards writes: “ Keats had been antecedently acquainted with Homer, merely through Pope ‘s interlingual renditions, interlingual renditions that Keats found unreal ” ( Richards ) . Further, Richards claims:

The Romantics ‘ unfavorable judgments of Pope and Chapman agreed with Keats in that it condemns the flabbiness, the contaminated poetic enunciation, and the artificiality of Pope ‘s interlingual rendition and praised the strength, pureness, and originality of Chapman ‘s ( Richards ) .

Until Keats read the interlingual rendition by George Chapman, there was no waking up in him. Furthermore, the usage of the word ‘looking ‘ in the rubric employs irony and imagery masterfully. Harmonizing to Dictionary.Com: expression may be defined as: ‘to investigate ; to see ‘

( Dictionary.Com ) . It is just to reason that Keats ‘ reading and apprehension of Chapman ‘s Homer was so thorough that Keats could ‘see by visual image ‘ the events, topographic points, and people in Chapman ‘s interlingual rendition.

In add-on, the overarching subjects of travel and find may really good be complimented by a subject of enlightenment or waking up. Through a subject of enlightenment or waking up, it may be argued that when Keats read Chapman ‘s Homer, it was non the first clip that Keats had heard of Homer ; nevertheless, it was the first clip that the life, bequest, and literary parts of Homer united with the literary experiences and strong beliefs of Keats, giving birth to a interactive waking up which unleashed Keats ‘ creativeness. Keats ‘ declaration of hearing Chapman ‘speak out loud and bold ‘ is the climatic minute when he felt and understood the power of Chapman ‘s interlingual rendition. Keats believes that Chapman illuminated Homer better than any other poet.

The Sestet of the verse form shows an overwhelming word image. There is a image of perplexing exhilaration, star-struck awe, and carry throughing silence, much like a lover expecting a flood tide, so sing the flood tide, and after the flood tide, falling into a breathless, trance-like fulfilled silence. Keats writes:

Then felt I like some spectator of the skies / When a new planet swims into his cognizance ; / Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes / He star ‘d at the Pacific — and all his work forces Look ‘d at each other with a wild guess / Silent, upon a extremum in Darien. ( 9-14 )

As is expected of Italian Sonnets, there is a clear denouement in the six.

The word pictures of Cortez as “ stout ” and “ keen-sighted ” are extra and effectual utilizations of simile and metaphor that enhances the imagination. The word “ stout ” normally evokes physical images of being “ hefty ” , “ unit of ammunition ” , “ bulky ” or “ fat ” . But, coupled with the look “ eagle-eye ” , it most likely identifies with this reading as defined by Dictionary.Com: “ holding endurance or remaining power ” ( Dictionary.com ) . It is a widely known fact that the vision of bird of Joves is superior to that of worlds. While extoling the superior vision of Cortez to place the Pacific Ocean, Keats besides shows the preciseness with which he scoured Chapman ‘s reading. Therefore, by uniting stout with eagle-eye, the verse form highlights the strength, staying power and preciseness of non merely Cortez but besides that of Keats. The allusions to strength and staying power long pillows Keats ‘ strong usage of metaphors, simile, and imagination. The strength of these literary elements is testament to Keats ‘ belief that Chapman ‘s Homer is superior to that of Pope ‘s. In the verse form, Keats atttributes the find of the Pacific Ocean to Cortez and non Balboa. It is non clear whether Keats ‘s ascription was as a consequence of a careless scholastic attack, or, whether the ascription was as a consequence of the deliberate usage of poetic amour propre which is utilizing drawn-out metaphors to make an image. What is crystal clear though, is the fact that with enunciation, imagination, the usage metaphor and simile, and the application of binary resistances and sarcasm, Keats allows the reader to visualize how he felt when the life and plants of Homer as offered by Chapman touched his pysche.

The impact of Chapman ‘s Homer complimented Keats ‘ historical, societal and political positions. In October 1816 during the Romanic Era Keats penned “ On First Looking into Chapman ‘s Homer. As was suiting during the Romantic Era, Keats ‘glorified ‘ Homer in the verse form. Of class, in the neoclassic epoch, Homer ‘s single gallantry would be frowned upon, since neoclassics preferable people who conformed to societal norms. Like Homer, Keats elevates the art of utilizing metaphors. Again, Like Homer, Keats besides combines the art of utilizing simile and metaphor to convey to life a literary work that might otherwise be mundane. Here is a comparing of how Homer and Keats combined similes and metaphors. Homer writes: “ The two immortals stepped briskly as wild doves, quaking, lament to support the contending work forces of Argos. ” ( Fagles )

Keats writes: Then felt I like some spectator of the skies / When a new planet swims into his cognizance ( 9-10 ) . It is apparent that Keats discovered the value of Homer ‘s usage of metaphors and instantly made usage of this powerful literary tool.

In summing up, I submit that Keats ‘ ability as a poet and his apprehension of the intent and elements of Poetry, in peculiar, imagination, simile and metaphors were awakened by Chapman because Chapman captured the kernel of utilizing similes, metaphors, and imagination and gave life to composing about Homer. Apparently, after detecting Chapman ‘s usage of metaphor and deriving a deeper apprehension of the power of the usage of metaphor and simile, Keats ‘ grasp for them as literary elements grew. Based on his newfound apprehension, it is possible to asseverate that Keats ‘ position of Homer, as seen through the range of Pope ‘s interlingual rendition appeared disruptive. However, Chapman ‘s interlingual rendition depicted a much clearer position of a adult male whose district is calm. Chapman ‘s interlingual rendition was the accelerator for Keats ‘ climatic epiphany. Keats was able to clearly joint how he felt before reading Chapman ‘s Homer and how he felt after reading Chapman ‘s Homer. The exhilaration felt by Keats as he discovered new truths about Homer and his work, is one that is shared and should be shared by any individual seeking higher scholar. John Keats so brightly and efficaciously conveyed the emotions he felt as he uncovered the kineticss of Homer that readers of the verse form are drawn into the exhilaration of travel and find metaphorically. The imagination of Keats foremost as a poet who is reading for cognition, so as an uranologist staring into new truths, and eventually as a adventurer realizing that he had discovered a new universe of literary accomplishment was really graphic. The impact of Keats ‘s find fueled him to show the accomplishment and document the experience. As a consequence future pupils, poets, authors, transcribers, translators, and lovers of the literary universe have a good specimen of the effectivity of imagination, simile, and metaphor. The words of Keats following below are a fitting decision to his find of power of the metaphor. Keats writes: Oft of one broad sweep had I been told / That deep-brow ‘d Homer ruled as his estate / Yet did I ne’er breathe its pure serene / Till I heard Chapman talk out loud and bold.


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Fagles. Think Quest.Org. 10 July 2010 & lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: //library.thinkquest.org/19300/data/homer.htm & gt ; .

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