John Keats: On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

(1519 words)

Keats’s most famous sonnet, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”, was the result of the poet’s enthusiastic reading of George Chapman’s 1616 English translations of Homer’s epic poetry. Keats and his friend Charles Cowden Clarke spent an evening in October 1816 marvelling over Chapman’s version of famous passages from the Iliad and the Odyssey after having read them only in Alexander Pope’s translations. Just the year before, William Godwin, in his Lives of Edward and John Philips (1815), had praised Chapman’s translations as “more spirited, free, and full of animation and enthusiasm” than Pope’s (244). Years later Clarke recalled that the inspired Keats had left him the …

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Robinson, Daniel. "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 February 2009
[, accessed 26 September 2016.]

Related Groups

  1. English Romanticism
  2. The Sonnet Tradition