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
reserve.

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
reading 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
description 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."

Category: English