The romantic principles within Keats work that link his poems to the romantic genre are manipulated in a way that allows him to explore the power of the imaginative journey. This is demonstrated in one of his highly successful poems, On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer. The romantic principals of nature, spirituality and allusions are all used to symbolise the imaginative journey occurring within Keats.
Keats addresses the romantic principle that glorifies nature when naming and describing the vast lands he imagines travelling to after reading Homer’s works. His mind visits several ‘goodly states and kingdoms,’ with specific geographical allusions to relevant locations being made. The ‘western islands’ he speaks of seem to symbolise the islands where Homer set his epics, while references are made to other sites like ‘the Pacific’ and ‘Darien.’ His imaginative journey implies that through reading the work of ‘deep browed Homer’ he has been gifted with the opportunity to figuratively escape and embark on an international journey. However, the poem could also act as a conceit metaphor as it compares Keats’ remarkable discovery of this new literature to the exhilaration explorer’s face when they uncover new territory. Keats uses imagery to describe the lands. He contrasts the ‘pure serene’ landscape with the high modality ‘loud and bold’ words spoken by Homer, translated by Chapman. This implies that his world was previously calm and nonchalant until Homer inspired a passionate flame inside him that has encouraged him to appreciate new works and look at the world in a different way. By focusing on the significance of nature it has allowed Keats to demonstrate how by stimulating ones brain with literature they have the powerful ability to mentally travel, as reading has allowed them to visually experience a new world.
The romantic ideal about emotion and spirituality was experienced by Keats while reading the works of Homer and they are reflected in his own poem. The error within the poem that occurs on line 11 displays Keats work as spontaneous and emotionally driven. This artistic mistake of incorrectly making a historical allusion, by referencing ‘Cortez’ when it should have been Balboa, immediately demonstrates the romantic value of emotion. It is his emotion of amazement that encourages Keats to imagine the world Homer described. When the speaker says ‘then felt I like some watcher of the skies’ the simile compares himself and perhaps a god. It shows his spiritual and inner growth he is gaining from his imagined travel. After reading the poem he finally feels like his eyes are open to the world around him, and he’s more knowledgeable now than ever before. The spirituality and emotion within the poem