Analysis of Keat’s “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” and “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles”

John Keat’s poems, On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer, and On Seeing the Elgin Marbles for the First Time, express an irresistible, poetical imagination. They convey a sense of atmosphere to the reader. In comparison they exemplify his intense love of beauty. The connection between these two poems is not so much in subject, but the feeling of awe. Both these poems show more emotion and amazement in the experience of discovering something new. Keats looked with eyes of wonder at new adventures and expressed them verbally with delicacy and eserve.

In the poem On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer, the description of his experiences overflows with youth and excitement. But as the poem continues the writing is toned down to convey the most important and meaningful experience. Keats describes how after traveling in lands of gold, and seeing many great states and kingdoms, he never truly realized the wonders of these things until reading Chapman’s translation of Homer. Crossing many western islands bards have sung about, he never was able to comprehend their true serene nature until eading man’s wondrous words.

This narration explains that though these were sights well visited , their beauty and Keats imagination kept them alive. Having read Chapman’s translation til dawn with his teacher, he was so moved he wrote this his first great poem and mailed it by ten A. M. that day. In On Seeing the Elgin Marbles for the First Time, the description of his experiences overflows with depression and experience. As the poem continues you see his sad point of view has faded . It gives it a familiarity that hides its true serene character.

He describes how his spirit is weak (mortality) and his wonderful memories have faded in his mind due to worries and unrest at his coming death. It should be said death does play a key role in this poem and is the main reason behind all his dreariness and heavy heart. His self-pity masks the appreciation that he was granted this length of time to even experience them. Having viewed these time worn memorials of Grecian skill, in this poem he expressed the indescribable feelings of wonder .

In comparison Keats expresses similarities in his concreteness of escription in which all the senses combine to give the total comprehension of an experience (new or old). He writes with an intense delight at the sheer existence of things outside himself, and seems to lose himself in his own mortality and the identification of the object he contemplates. His imagination is unleashed on the works of poetry and art that so amazed him. Keats style of poetry speaks of truth in beauty. His motto is captured in a line of his own poetry -“A thing of beauty is a joy forever. “

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