In To Autumn, John Keats paints three perfect autumnal landscapes in three powerful stanzas. He also highlights the impact on the senses which occur to the patient observer. The poem is written in a highly formal pattern and combines rich imagery with clever use of personification.
The speaker addresses autumn directly and personifies it as a woman. The poem moves from the early stages of autumn to the coming of winter. It includes detailed descriptions of different aspects of the season which is seen as beautiful and full of natural wonder.
Keats composed this poem after a countryside walk and was excited and moved by what he saw. He has clearly captured the sights, sounds and smells that he experienced here. However, the speaker’s attitude throughout the poem gradually and subtly changes. At the start he is full of joy and wonder at the natural world as he describes the rich abundance that nature offers. By the time he reaches the third stanza there is a shift in his perspective. He becomes more reflective and melancholy as he considers what the passing of time actually means both to himself and humans in general.
As readers we are invited to share in Keats’ thought process. We are effectively drawn in by a lively and vibrant description before being asked to consider one of life’s big questions – why are we here?
Read the poem here.
To Autumn by John Keats Essay
590 Words3 Pages
To Autumn by John Keats
“To Autumn” is one of the most famous, and perfect odes written by
John Keats, and any modern writer. It is quite fitting that his greatest piece was the last one that he ever wrote before he met with his unfortunate end. However, this ode has some significant differences to the other odes that he has written. Firstly, there is no flight from reality, or deviation into imagination or dream, in fact there is no narrative voice at all. Secondly, it has an unprecedented emphasis and commemoration of change and progress, not only through autumn, but through all mortal events. While the title implies a progression through autumn, the ode also has references to an aging day, and even personal maturity.
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The “budding” implies an ongoing activity along with “flowers of bees” that is potentially eternal and immortal. It reaches a point of abundance that the bees “think warm days will never cease.” Finally Keats cites “Summer” responsible, not only for the bees over filled cells, but for everything else that is happening. In the second stanza, the intense ripening mentioned before has reached its zenith and is ready to be harvested. Autumn is personified as a reaper or a harvester in this stanza that crosses a brook or is
“by a cider-press, with a patient look.” However, for the rest of the time it is lethargic and even sleeping. Autumn is “on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,” suggest that the task is somewhat incomplete, as there is still ripe grain to be reaped or apples to be pressed, although the process does come to an end with the “last oozings.”
Cider and poppies, which are used to create opium, are used for languid purposes, like lying around and doing nothing. This further enforces the lack of intensity in the harvesting process and end of fertility. The third and last stanza of the poem brings an end to the season, an end to the day, and an end to life. The change of time is represented by the reference to Spring just as it is in the first stanza. However