John Keats Techniques To Evoke The Reader

John Keats, Techniques To Evoke The Reader’s Senses Essay, Research Paper


Examine various techniques a poet can use to evoke reader response to a subject in reference to two or more poems


John Keats uses various techniques in his compositions to evoke a reader’s response to his theme. In Keats’s poem, “On first looking into Chapman’s Homer” depicts Keats’s emotions and feelings after being read Chapman’s Elizabethan translation of the Odyssey. To show the magnitude of his delight, Keats compares his feelings to those of many explorers, who discover the wonders of the world and universe.

On first looking into Chapman’s Homer is an Italian sonnet, with 14 lines, in the classic rhyme pattern of abbaabbacdcdcd, and is written in an iambic pentametre which gives the poem a lyrical flow. The poem begins with a calm beginning, in the voice of ripe experience. “Much have I traveled in the realms of gold. And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;” The calm beginning then mounts to the excitement of the climax towards the end. “Wild surmise” which is then confirmed by the next line, “Silent, upon the peak in Darien” and the image of the peak which also corresponds to the heightened moment.

Keats states in this poem that he has traveled much, presumably by ship (“Round many western islands”) Here we see the first comparison. Keats has done much exploring but he has never explored Homer. Keats compares reading Homer to be equivalent to discovering a new planet. But Keats does not stop at that comparison, because discovering a planet is usually a one man business. Keats makes what would normally be a person and private reading into a communal and heroic event. He does this by turning the event of reading Chapman’s Homer into one that is equal to the exploration of the pacific, or the movement of planets. Keats used Cortez because Cortez did not explore alone in Panama but was accompanied by all his men, (looking at each other with wild surmise.) Keats’s theme in the poem is that when a person reads Homer, he or she becomes a member of a company of people who have discovered Homer.

One of the most well known mistakes in Keats’s poem is how he refers to Cortez discovering the Pacific. Keats was most probably referring to Balboa’s discovery of the Pacific. But the mistake however does not interfere with the imaginative and evoking aspects of the poem for Keats wanted the to describe his sensation as “At length the Indians assured them, that from the top of the next mountain they should discover the ocean which was the object of their wishes. When, with infinite toil, they had climbed up the greater part of the steep ascent, Balboa commanded his men to halt, and alone to the summit, that he might be the first who should enjoy a spectacle which he had so long desired. As soon as he beheld the South Sea stretching in endless prospect below him, he fell on his knees, and lifting up his hands to Heaven, returned thanks to God, who had conducted him to a discovery so beneficial to his country, and so honorable to himself. His followers, observing his transports of joy, rushed forward to join in his wonder, exultation, and gratitude”

Keats’s poems very often uses comparison and metaphors extensively to evoke the readers emotions. One other such poet would be A.D Hope in his poem Phallus where Hope makes comparisons to, “gods’ god, divine divining rod and wooden horse receives into your Troy. Phallus may be seen as one of the most metaphoric poems ever written, where each line is ambiguous. Keats uses the metaphors, comparisons and extremely sense evoking images to allow the reader to see and feel what he feels and to sense what he senses.


On first looking into Chapman’s Homer, by John Keats