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Readers of this poem may be interested to learn that Keats had trained not as a poet or writer, but as an apothecary-surgeon. In the year of this poem, 1816, he received his license to practice, but he gave up this career to pursue a life of reading, thinking, and writing. The excitement he describes in this poem explains that decision. One of the rhetorical figures usually associated with Keats is synesthesia, the metaphorical mingling of references to different senses. In line 7 of this poem, the word “serene” is both a political and ecological metaphor, referring both to clear air and the majesty of Homer’s poetry. To “breathe its pure serene,” by synesthesia, equates breathing with reading and also with understanding. This was probably his favorite literary technique, though it is open to debate.
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