Ode to Autumn

Ode to Autumn

1

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-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, 5
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; 10
For Summer has o’erbrimm’d their clammy cells.

2

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 winnowing1 wind; 15
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook; 20
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

3

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day 25
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; 30
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft2;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

 

John Keats was an English Romantic poet and ‘To Autumn’ was the final ode in his collection known as ‘Keats’s 1819 Odes’. It was published in 1820, the year before Keats died.
This poem is a celebration of nature and harvest-time, and of the season that brings the ripeness of fruit and crops, ‘And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core’. Here he refers to grapes, apples, pumpkins, hazel nuts, late flowers, wheat and cider
Keats describes how autumn comes to bring a welcome end to the summer, suggesting that even the bees are tired of it, ‘For Summer has o’erbrimm’d their clammy cells’.
He states that autumn shouldn’t feel inferior to spring; that autumn has its own unique beauty, music and colour. He says this because poets usually wrote about spring, but never about autumn.  He describes the passage of time by referring to the lambs on the hills, from new-born in spring to fully grown in the autumn, ‘And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn’.

In the last stanza he describes the transition from autumn to winter by referring to birds; the arrival of winter is expressed by the presence of the bird that symbolizes winter and Christmas, the robin, ‘The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft’, and he describes the migration of the birds which need to escape from the cold, ‘And gathering swallows twitter in the skies’.

Listen and look

 

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