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On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer

On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer

by John Keats


Symbol Analysis

Land becomes a powerful metaphor for Keats's view of literature. In the poem, we see mapped, politically-stable realms and states and kingdoms, but we also see new and uncharted lands that are ripe for exploration.

  • Line 1: The "realms of gold" could literally refer to the new world in the west where gold was being mined.
  • Line 2: "States" and "kingdoms" sound more like political realms but remind us of the people we would meet in these far-off places, much like characters in a book.
  • Line 3: The "western islands" seem to refer—ironically—to the islands off the east coast of Greece where Homer set his epics, but Keats probably used western islands to refer again to the (relatively) newly discovered Americas. 
  • Line 5: The "demesne," or domain, of Homer was both the Grecian world and his own works. This use of geography as a symbol here reminds us that authors are the creators of these worlds.
  • Line 14: Keats shows his metaphorical range by having us travel from Homer's Greece all the way to a mountain in Panama.

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