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Poetry & TranslationThe Art of the Impossible$
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Peter Robinson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781846312182

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846315534

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On First Looking

On First Looking

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter 1 On First Looking
Source:
Poetry & Translation
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/UPO9781846315534.002

This chapter examines John Keats' poem On First Looking into Chapman's Homer which was a response to George Chapman's translation of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. It suggests that while the poem addresses Keats' limited knowledge about Homer, the issue for Keats is not so much the Homeric style but the recovery of an Elizabethan vigour before the more familiarly civilized sounds of Augustan heroic couplets. It also considers William Empson's Chinese Ballad whose source is also a closed book to its translator. This chapter contends that translated poems, poems in translation, can be at their best when their themes are elegiac, disappointed or fretted with loss.

Keywords:   John Keats, On First Looking into Chapman's Homer, George Chapman, Iliad, Odyssey, William Empson, Chinese Ballad, translated poems

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