Introduction

This web text is a kind of experiment. It responds to the final essay prompt in ENL 5246 (Romantic Literature) at Florida State University, Summer 2014, but instead of undertaking a traditional critical essay, it strikes off in a slightly different direction. It takes as its object of study the Keats poem “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer,” and applies three modes of writing to it: nonfiction in the form of personal narrative, critical nonfiction, and a kind of annotated found text.

The first piece, “A Young Romantic and Keats,” recounts my own personal acquaintance with the poem, as a freshman in college, and uses Keats as a way to bookend the beginning and end of my formal education in literature.

The second piece, “Cortez or Balboa?”, explores an interesting debate surrounding the poem: Did Keats err in including the character of Cortez in line 11? Did he actually mean Balboa? And does it matter?

The third piece, “Poetry Help Desperatly Needed,” [sic] riffs on a couple of ideas I’ve been considering recently. First, the idea of whether youth culture is actually devolving, and second, the idea of learning and writing as play.

Finally, here is a recorded performance of me reading “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer.”

 

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