This week I’d like you to write a response to a sonnet, villanelle, or sestina of your choice from chapter 19. These fixed form poems can be found on pages 464-472 in the eText. As usual, I’ve included a few questions to get us started. What do you notice about the poem? How does the poem’s form relate to the poem’s content? Is there, for example, a particular rhyme scheme or the repetition of a certain line? Is there a particular meter? As you think about your chosen poem, I’d like you to consider the technical challenges of writing a fixed form poem. I look forward to reading your thoughts on this week’s readings.
poem of choice (sonnet)
John Keats (1795–1821)
On First Looking into Chapman’s Homerº1816
Chapman’s Homer: Before reading George Chapman’s (ca. 1560–1634) poetic Elizabethan translations of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Keats had known only stilted and pedestrian eighteenth- century translations.© Corbis.
Much have I traveled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo° hold.
4 Apollo: Greek god of poetry.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene°atmosphere
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;10
Or like stout Cortez° when with eagle eyes
11 Cortez: Vasco Núñez de Balboa, not Hernando Cortés, was the first European to sight the Pacific from Darien, a peak in Panama.
He stared at the Pacific — and all his men
Looked at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.