To Autumn by John Keats

John Keats (1795-1821)
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, 
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; 
Conspiring with him how to load and bless 
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, 
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; 
      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells 
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, 
   And still more, later flowers for the bees, 
   Until they think warm days will never cease, 
      For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Autumn Colors at Tofuku-ji Temple
courtesy of Sacha Fernandez
Creative Commons

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? 
   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find 
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, 
   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep, 
   Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep 
   Steady thy laden head across a brook; 
   Or by a cyder-press, with patient look, 
      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Autumn Bokeh
courtesy of Torbus
Creative Commons

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—  
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, 
   And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue; 
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn 
   Among the river sallows, borne aloft 
      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; 
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 
   Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft 
   The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; 
      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Autumn Landscape
courtesy of Blmiers2
Creative Commons

Fall is here and so Keats reminds us in this lovely, dreamy lazy poem about this season.

In the first stanza, I love the imagery that is created by Keats filling the reader’s senses with the ripeness of the harvest.  Do you notice the sibilance that is conveyed with words like “mists”, “close blossom”, “bless”, “moss’d”, “swell”, “sweet”, “set”, “cease” and “cells”?  It gives a soft sound to the first stanza that lulls the reader into the dreamy shades of autumn.

The second stanza expresses autumn as a person, and the reader can almost see a goddess sitting on the granary floor while the teasing breezes caress her hair.  Here autumn rests from her harvest.  The personification makes “her” more real, more alive.

While autumn is a season of endings and we tend to start to look forward to spring, yet in the third stanza, Keats encourages the reader to revel in autumn’s glory and bask in its golden sunset, rather than look ahead to something that cannot yet be enjoyed.

I’ve had little exposure to Keats so far, but know this poem will be one of many to come.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have and have a very happy autumn season!