Explanation Of On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer By John Keats

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 of one wide expanse had I been told

In the opening lines of “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” by John Keats, the speaker vividly expresses their literary exploration as a journey through splendid realms of gold. This metaphor captures the profound and transformative nature of their encounters with various works of literature, which are akin to traversing rich and captivating landscapes. The speaker’s description of having witnessed numerous magnificent states and kingdoms alludes to the diverse range of human experiences and cultures that literature exposes them to. The reference to “western islands” aligns with the classical tradition and the reverence held by poets loyal to Apollo, symbolizing the poets who draw inspiration from ancient Greek literature.

Continuing, the speaker touches on the cumulative effect of these literary experiences. The phrase “oft of one wide expanse had I been told” suggests a recurring theme or topic, potentially foreshadowing the pivotal moment of their discovery in Chapman’s translation of Homer’s works. These opening lines capture the speaker’s sense of intellectual adventure, their thirst for knowledge, and the profound impact of encountering literary treasures, culminating in the momentous revelation that the poem explores in further detail.

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:

Also Read : 


These lines form the part of On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer. written by John Keats. Keats was one of the major poets of the romantic school of poetry. He was a poet all embracing sensuousness. Poetry to him was not a spiritual vision as with Wordsworth, nor an emancipating vision as Shelley, but a joy wrought out of sensations. In the present poem. he records his reactions on first looking into Chapman’s version of Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey.

The poet says that he has been told of many places and countries. He has also listened to the stories of Homer who was an illustrious poet of Greece. As the poet describes. Homer was as if it were a king in the realm of Greek poets who distinguished himself by writing two great epics- Illiad and Odyssey. Chapman was a poet and dramatist of the Elizabethan England who rendered these two works in English. But according to Keats his translation lacks the grandeur and delicacy of the original work.

These lines express the true voice of the feeling of Keats in simple, sensuous and passionate language

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.

These are the concluding lines from the poem entitled On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer written by John Keats. Keats was a great romantic poet whose greatness consists more in his promise and potentiality rather than in his achievement. His poems are marked by pictorial beauty, sensuous touches and structural unity. His poetry has an infinite wealth of details. The details are meant to evoke in the readers an immediate response of eyes and ears. Each syllable and phrase is charged with associations and echoes. In the present poem, he records his reactions on first looking into Chapman’s version of Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey.

The poet is filled with a sense of amazement at the sight of Chapman’s English version of Homer’s works. Just as a man is surprised to see the presence of a new planet in the sky, Keats was seized with wonder to see the works of Chapman. Secondly, he compares himself with Cortez who was looking at the Pacific ocean with his eager eyes from the top of Darien, a mountain. Cortez was not the Spanish explorer and conqueror, but one of his companions Balboa, who first saw the Pacific ocean from a peak in Darien, the Isthmus of Panama.

These lines are characteristic of the poetry of Keats. Here, his poetry becomes highly allusive and poignant. His language is simple, sensuous and passionate.



Leave a Comment