"To Autumn" is a lyrical poem, which propounds the writer’s feelings and thoughts on a particularly beautiful day. The poet and the narrator appear to be one and the same and he appears to be the sole spectator of the luscious scenery. Whilst in the first stanza the poem does not speak directly to any one person, but simply describes the scenery, the second stanza seems to be addressing the autumn season itself, "Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?"
In the last stanza the poem seems to be adopting a more rhetorical tone which could be following the poet’s own train of thought.
Keats uses an iambic pentameter within the poem to form a gentle and slow peaceful sense of movement throughout the seasons. The poem by telling us that summer is nearly ending "maturing summer" and this is the first reference to the concept of time continuously moving on. Other references to time are then made with a "patient look" and "hours by hours", in stanza two, and "soft-dying day" in stanza three.
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We are told that autumn is a "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" and the alliteration on the "hints at the soft and mild nature of the season. The phrase "mellow fruitfulness" conjures an image of full flavored and well-matured wine which could by itself, make the scenery appear rather misty. The reference to "fruitfulness" also implies that the summer season has been generous and the harvest plentiful. The metaphor "close bosom friend" refers to the sun and autumn working in close harmony to bring about the abundance of gifts from mother nature. This phrase also conjures in my mind the picture of a bosom, which is ample in size and well fed by plentiful harvest.
Within the first stanza Keat’s gives a series of examples all depicting different aspects and experiences of autumn. The first example of this is the use of the double verbs, “load and bless”. Both are emphasizing the extreme generosity and kindness of autumn, suggesting an atmosphere of total comfort and relaxation. This idea is illustrated by the use of the soft sibilant in the verb "bless". It hints at a soft gentle music beneath the text, which is created by the effective use of the text. The "moss’d cottage tress" that "bend with apples" again reinforces the idea of autumn being a season willing to give and produce. This is suggested by the fact that there are so many apples on the tress they are forced to bend under the weight. The adjective "moss’d" hints that the trees are very old, therefore suggesting a certain peaceful wisdom about them.
Autumn will "fill all fruit with ripeness to the core" and will "swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells". These two phrases are both examples of the effective use of language, creating a generous and tranquil atmosphere. For example, there are no half measures as "all" the fruit will be "filled" with ripeness". The adjective "all" suggests that in this season, there are no exceptions and "all" will prosper. The verbs "swell" and "plump" within the context they are used to compliment the season by emphasizing its kindness.
Within the first stanza time moves almost imperceptibly. This slowness of movement is suggested by the long, unbroken sentences. The comparatives in the anti-penultimate line suggest the season to be fooling the bees and the reader into thinking the "warm days will never cease". The sound of the "s" within "days", "cease" and "summer" almost suggest the soft buzzing of the bees hinting again at a subtle musical quality about the poem showing that all is calm. Overall, the musical qualities and rhythms compliment the language within the stanza. The rhythm gives it a pleasant unity but does not become intrusive.
The first two stanzas are linked by the rhetorical question? "who hath not see thee oft amid thy store?" As the second stanza begins we perceive time has moved on. The crops described in the previous verse have been collected, suggested by the reference to "store". The idea behind the second stanza is the collecting and harvesting of the fruits depicted previously. For example, there’s a reaper "asleep". This again reinforces the idea of a complete peacefulness as the reaper is asleep, therefore untroubled.
In the second stanza Keats uses personification to portray the season to have human qualities about it. This is shown by phrases such as, "Thee sitting careless on a granary floor" and "thy hair soft lifted by the winnowing wind." The fact that the figure is "sitting careless" tell us the season offers no threats and it is time to relax. In this stanza of the poem, all worries seem to have dis-appeared and there is a feeling of contentment for all. The compound words such as "soft lifted" and "half reap’d", suggest certain softness, created by the placid nature of the poem. Keats tells us there is a "winnowing wind." The alliteration of the "w" suggests the sound of the wind, yet the breeze is gentle and kind, like the season, and all things are treated with care. For example, the hair is "soft lifted", telling us that everything is treated with delicacy and nothing can come to any harm or be disturbed. Keat’s use of the poppy in the poem suggests an almost hazy and drug like quality to the atmosphere, which makes all living things feel sleepy. The long vowels and and quiet consonants of the stanza create a gentle almost magical picture. Keats knows, however, that this idyllic moment cannot last forever and the new season will change everything about the scene he has captured for us. For the moment though, everything appears to be static from the sleeping reaper to the figure "sitting careless on a granary floor".
In the third stanza the mood changes and Keats introduces the idea of each season having it’s own music. The double rhetorical question, “where are the songs of spring?”To Autumn gives a hint of nostalgia and melancholy and this is emphasized with the day is "soft dying". The reference to death suggests that everything that has blossomed as much as it could be now in the latter stages of nature’s cycle and must now wither and die.
The emphasis in the third stanza is on autumn"s range of music and songs – "wailful choir" "full grown lambs loud bleat". It suggest that the sounds of mother nature are a tribute to all the blessings that the "maturing sun" has bestowed on her and the "wailful choir" are now singing a type of requiem mass. For Keats, all aspects of autumn’s music are melancholy “even the crickets voices are "treble soft". "Swallows twitter in the sky", hinting that they are saying farewell to autumn and we see that winter is becoming increasingly near as indicated by the appearance of the robin.
The sense of time moving on is implied by the comparatives given. There are now "stubble plains" indicating that the previous "fruitfulness" of the season" has gone and the plants have been cut to "stubble." This harsh additive is softened by the "rosy hue" which "touch the stubble plains". The reference to the plains suggest a vast deserted are, echoing the underlying feeling of emptiness that the stanza is creating. Nothing in the stanza is too vigorous, the wind is always "light", indicating that although the season is ending the mood of gentle kindnesses still prevails.
"To Autumn" ends depicting the symbols of winter. The emigrating birds, previously associated with summer and the "songs of spring" are now leaving and moving on, as is the season itself. Autumn is slowly drawing to a close and a sense of ending and finality is created in the lessening of the familiar comforts of autumn. The style in which "To Autumn" is written is extremely subtle, yet creates a highly effective picture of the season at it’s most glorious. The poem is almost romantic in its slow movement through time and Keats gives us a most sensitive account of his thoughts and
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