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To Autumn by John Keats
"To Autumn" is a poem by the English Romantic poet John Keats and it was published in 1820. He composed it after a walk near Winchester one autumnal evening. This shows how Keats writes when he's inspired - "If poetry comes not naturally as leaves to a tree, then it better not come at all". The poem has elevated style, like a celebration, but also lamenting the death that Autumn brings, Keats's speaker opens his poem by addressing Autumn, describing its intimacy with the sun, the figures of Autumn are described as a female goddess. Towards the end of the poetry, the speaker emphasis on the sound of autumn because it is as sweeter as the music of spring. Thus, "To Autumn" celebrates the beauty and warmth of autumn. This poem will be analyzed critically according to the themes, tone, figures of speech and form.
The first theme in "To Autumn" is the theme of mortality. Autumn is frequently used as a symbol in literature for old age. "To Autumn" avoids any super obvious references to death, but we do get some subtle ones like the oblivious bees that think the summer will last forever as in lines 9.10 - "And still more, later the flowers for the bees, until they think warm days will never cease", or the "hook" that spares the poppy flowers from their inevitable end, lines 17.18 "While thy hook spares the next swath and all its twined flowers ". As the day begins to "die" in the final section, line 25 "While barred clouds bloom the soft dying day" the entire landscape contributes to the song of the morning.
Furthermore, Ripeness is an important theme in this poem: autumn is seen as a time when the fruit is ready for picking and the grain for harvesting. It is a time to prepare for the onset of winter, as in the lines 7.8 "To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells with a sweet kernel", the active verb "swell" and "plump" emphasize that everything is at its best and ready for mankind's use.
Moving on the tone, the prevailing mood of the speaker seem to be peaceful and contentment. The tone is celebratory, relishing Autumn's riches. "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness", the fruit trees and vegetables have matured and ripened "And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core". It shows the happiness and warmth of autumn. The gathering of the wheat and the corn, the pressing of the apples to produce a luxurious drink. The poet sees this time as one for joy and festivity "to bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees". However, the tone also reflects the transitory nature of life, it shows a hint of sadness. It's the juxtaposition between joy and sadness, life and death. The beauty and joy of the dying day are reflected by images evoking sadness "it is the sun setting on the stubble fields and the wails of the gnats".
Figures of speech:
Now moving to the literary devices used by the poet, the first is the Apostrophe: Keats's speaker is addressing Autumn when he asks "who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store" (line12). Moreover, he personifies Autumn as a worker in a granary, sleeping on the floor because of the heavy drowsiness that Keats associates with the season in the second stanza "thee sitting careless on a granary floor" (line 21.22). Autumn's look the appearance on her face while watching he cider, is an example of Metonymy when the word "patient" is attached. An expression cannot itself be patient, but her look is associated with the patience of her character. In line 24, Autumn is addressed for the last time, as the speaker tells her not to feel jealous of spring.
"To Autumn" is written in a three stanzas structure with a variable rhyme scheme. Each stanza is 11 lines ling and each is metered in a relatively precise iambic pentameter. Each stanza is divided into 2 parts. The is composed of 4 lines and the second of 7 lines. The first part of each stanza follows an ABAB rhyme scheme, but the second
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