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Analysis of ‘To Autumn’ by John Keats

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To Autumn

John Keats was born on 31st October 1795. He started writing at a very young age and all that he did and wrote ended when he was 25, he died on 23rd February 1821. He was extremely fond of nature and even till his last breath he appreciated the beauty of the flowers and bees. This passion is reflected in all his poems. Keats was given his due while he was alive, but after his death he came to be known as one of the best of Romantic poets of his age and he shares that space with P.B. Shelly and Lord Byron. He studied to become a surgeon but quit that profession and followed the calling of his heart which was writing poetry.

‘The Autumn’ was written on September 19, 1819 and is his last poem. This poem is considered one of is best and is bracketed along with ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ and ‘Ode to a Nightingale’.  This poem is about autumn and when most poets wrote about spring Keats wrote about autumn and it was not surprising for he even wrote an ode to ‘melancholy’. Keats was not a sentimentalist so was willing to experiment. All through the poem Keats addresses autumn as a person. In the first stanza he notes that sun and autumn are like best friends.




Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

And he goes on to describe how both together will ripen many fruits and drop the seeds to get them ready for spouting in spring. He says that the bees think that summer will last forever when they buzz around the beautiful flowers but the poet knows that this is not the truth.

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

In the second stanza autumn is personified as a woman who is resting, after the harvest, in the granary.

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Most of the work of ripening the fruits was over with help of the sun and she could now rest.

In the third stanza Keats writes that music of spring was nice but now in autumn that was a distant memory. Autumn’s music, he adds, was very cool too. The autumn scene had images of clouds, fields at sunset, gnats flying over a river, crickets singing, birds whistling and lamb bleating.

‘To Autumn’ is written in three stanzas and has thirty three lines. Each stanza has eleven lines and the rhyme scheme varies. The meter used is iambic pentameter.  The rhyme scheme for the first four lines in all the stanzas is ABAB. Then in the rest of the lines in the first stanza the rhyme scheme is CDEDCCE. In the second and third it is CDECDDE. The theme of the poem is very simple; it is about autumn. It stands apart because generally no poet sings about autumn.  The imagery used is vivid, a trademark of John Keats poems.Allen Tate, an American poet said that "To Autumn" is "a very nearly perfect piece of style but it has little to say"