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!

13 thoughts on “To Autumn by John Keats

  1. Well then, you are one of the people who can do what Keats cautions against ….. look forward to spring (because you're already in it!) *** grin *** It's very autumny here …… cooler and foggy in the mornings. So far not too much rain though, which is unusual. I'm assuming that you live in Australia? I still have to visit there —- it's on my bucket list.

  2. Awesome! You just made my day, Cleo. Keats is my favorite poet and I adore this poem a great deal for many of the reasons you stated, especially the second stanza with Autumn being anthropomorphized into a goddess. The cycle of life with birth and death is weaved in so beautifully.

    If you are interested in reading more Keats, please check out the Odes (Ode to a Nightingale is my favorite poem of all time, just sayin'), Grecian Urn; "When I have Fears" is also fantastic. I love his letters too, especially to Fanny Brawne. *swoons* I'd even recommend the movie Bright Star if you haven't already seen it. Not your typical biopic by any means. It might even increase your interest in Keats to read more of his work!

    Sorry, anything Keats related me really excited. I'll try and calm down now.

  3. No, no, don't be calm! Your enthusiasm is inspiring! I will definitely check out all your recommendations, and if you have any more, please send them my way.

    Sadly, while composing this post, I (or Blogger — I will lay the blame on Blogger) inadvertently erased a review that I had been working on for months and was just ready to publish! Arghh! Oh, for the gift of a photographic memory. Sigh! So I need some soothing poetry to calm my …… disappointment ….. 🙁

    I believe that Keats will definitely be in my plans for 2015!

  4. Beautiful images of autumn but I'm missing one that always makes me stop what I'm doing and listen. At twilight they start coming and fly through the night. Honking, flapping and flying in a V formation clusters of geese arrive in The Netherands ( around the Frisan Coast, where I live) to spend the winter. They escape the blustry and harsh winter of Siberia and hunker down here in our sea climate. Mild winters help them survive. I often close my books and stand outside at night listening to their call and knowing winter is just around the corner.

  5. What kind of geese? Here the Canadian Geese used to fly south for the winter but, I'm assuming, because our climate has become milder, we now have them all year round. They actually are like pests, over-populating, and honestly making a mess. You often see them swimming around in the ocean! Odd!

    As for autumn and birds, I just love the little chickadees —- such bright, perky, chirpy little guys. In the last week, I've been lucky enough to see a Pileated Woodpecker and a Barn Owl was sitting up in a tree just outside my kitchen window the other day, very regally and calmly, as it was being dive-bombed by rather irate Stellar Jays. It's definitely been a very "birdy" autumn!

  6. Sigh, envious of the nature around you and so close to the kitchen window. White-fronted geese, , bean geese and graylag geese here in Friesland. This will be our last Indian Summer weekend….then it will be time to face the cold. Reading with the help of Paul Veyne poems by René Char. I never heard of him but Veyne's enthousiasme is contagious … is yours

  7. Thank you for sharing this lovely poem. One an October Saturday it just makes me want to get outside and wander around the local farmer's markets and parks. I have read only a little of Keats too but I'm in a Romantics kind f mood right now so maybe it's time to give him some attention.

  8. Oh yes! Jason has made me excited to read Keats, so I can recommend him to you too.

    A Saturday walk is a wonderful idea! I have an unexpected free Saturday so I think I'll follow your example. There is a walk by a river close to where I live, which is usually filled with people on the weekends, but if I take a detour into the forest, I can certainly get lost in autumn. Happy walking!

  9. I don't seem to be able to edit my comment, but was going to add that "sallows" is a word I learned from this poem (in the 3rd verse). Sallows are a type of broad-leafed willow.

    The Deal Me In challenge sounds interesting! I will have to check it out.

  10. Ah, that's neat …… willows love water so it makes sense the sallows grow by the river.

    Yes, please check it out. It's a great challenge that's helped me to read things that I never would have otherwise!

Thanks for visiting. I'd love to hear from you and have you join in the discussion!