What Is a Summary of "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer"?

"On First Looking into Chapman's Homer" is a poem by John Keats in which the author describes the feeling of discovery after first reading George Chapman's translations of the works by the Greek poet Homer. Keats first tells of his previous experience, then compares them to reading Chapman's translations.

At first, Keats describes visiting many different realms and kingdoms. He speaks in metaphor, which invokes a sense of exploration, but stresses never having fully experienced things. Keats was aware of Homer and other translations of his works but had not, at that point, read Chapman's translations. It is not until the second half of the poem that Keats describes reading these translations, which give him a sense of wonder.

He compares the experience to being an astronomer who discovers a new planet or an explorer, such as Hernan Cortez, who discovered new lands. The poem is frequently cited as an example of a person who experiences the emotional power of a great work of art. Chapman's translations were different from the ones more familiar to Keats' generation. The familiar translations of John Dyden and Alexander Pope were expressed in blank verse or heroic couplet. However, Chapman's voice was different, and when Keats first experienced this new voice, he stayed up late reading it. He was reported to have even shouted in delight at passages that struck him. The next morning, the sonnet was complete.