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On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer

On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer

by John Keats

On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

The form of this poem is a Petrarchan sonnet, named after a dead Italian guy (can you guess his name?) who wrote lots of love poems. Petrarchan sonnets—named after the Italian poet Petrarch (pat...

Speaker

Now, it's a major rule in reading poetry not to confuse the speaker with the poet him- or herself. Often, a poet can use the first person ("I") to speak in a voice that is radically different from...

Setting

The setting of the poem is the occasion mentioned in the title, looking into the translation of Homer. We know from his biography that Keats wrote this poem immediately after this experience, late...

Sound Check

Keats believes in the power of poetry. In this poem, he isn't praising the content of Homer's work, he's praising the poetic language of the translator George Chapman. A huge part of poetry is its...

What's Up With the Title?

The title isn't super-creative. No cute puns or crazy references here, it's pretty much all business. Still, it does tell us a few important things, though.First, this is a lyrical poem—a short,...

Calling Card

We shouldn't be surprised to see a sonnet from any Romantic poet. Literally a sonnet is a "little song." That was the perfect container for the Romantics, who wanted quick, personal reflections on...

Tough-o-Meter

Sure, we've got some specific references that have to be looked up: Chapman's Homer, Apollo, Cortez, Darien. But once you've done a little recon, the poem is pretty straightforward. It's got a simp...

Trivia

The Emmy-award winning show 30Rock gave a shout-out to "On First Looking into…" in the fifth season episode "Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning." Now you'll get the reference. (Source.)Keats fa...

Steaminess Rating

We don't know many twenty-one year old guys with as clean a mind as John Keats. He wrote some love poems, but even those are pretty mild. This one doesn't even register on the sexiness scale—just...

Allusions

Chapman: The Chapman in the title is George Chapman, who translated Homer's work in the seventeenth century. Interestingly, the Chapman translation was widely considered inferior to the more famous...

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