This is the last poem Keats wrote and is an ode, which is a lyric poem addressed to a person or thing and deals with one main idea. The romantic poets like Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats used this form of poem a lot. The Romantics wrote of many things in their poems and believed their emotions and their imagination were very important. In this poem the main subject is autumn which Keats relates to love, death and immortality (Romantics were interested in these areas).
He describes Autumn’s rich images and uses them as symbols for his own feelings.
Keats uses a mature language to convey a ‘Romantics’ view of Autumn and nature. In the first stanza we are straight away led into the idea of something which is warm, pleasant, smooth and full of richness – autumn.. The word autumn is never used except in the title so we only know it’s autumn because of the way Keats paints us a picture with words.
With words like “mellow” and “fruitfulness” being used. Keats then talks of the sun and how it ripens everything in a completed and full way, “And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core..
” This shows how Keats believes autumn begins and summer ends, with the growth and ripeness of fruit and plants. He uses detailed, complex and innovative language to describe a maturing and full Autumn. For example, when talking about the ripening fruit of autumn ” And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core” and “”To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells”.
The use of those words “swell” and “plump”in this context presents a very real picture. He shows use a summer leaving and a Autumn entering in abundance and an idea of love. The line “..
later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease,” shows how autumn can come slowly in with warm sun and late flowers such that the bees may think it is still summer. Maybe this all relates to Keats and shows he had reached the ripest point of his career. The second stanza is Autumn described in a very strong way and shows us very visual ideas. Keats in this stanza represents Autumn as a person or spirit using words such as ‘seated’, ‘sleeping ‘and ‘watching’ which are all things one does. For example, in the lines “Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find.
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, Thy hair soft-lifted … ” Keats clearly shows autumn as a person, using the pronoun “thee” and words such as “careless” which can only apply to people. Another example is when he writes: “Steady thy laden head across a brook; Or by a cider -press with patient look” with the word “patient” clearly a human quality. This personification is very good at getting across the feeling of an autumn day – the furrows are “half-reaped” – there is a “winnowing wind” but it is not cold and bitter like winter because he writes “they hair soft lifted by the winnowing wind”.
In this second stanza, he also shows what Autumn has and brings – its characteristics and occupations. This stanza has a feeling of contentment and yet impermanence, the cider reaches its “last oozings” and the harvest is finishing “… while thy hook spares the next swath… “. Autumn reaches its peak but the peak is slowly fading. Talk of drugs to ease pain was mentioned “Drowsed with the fume of poppies”. This was linking with one of the Romantic’s pastimes but maybe also the pain-relief for Keats. He describes corn being hooked and cider being pressed.
All of this stanza may again relate to Keats life as he knew of his illness and death was beginning to enter his thoughts. The last stanza is important and uses brilliant and poetic language with Keats showing his joy in words. Music is an important topic here with with Keats claiming that, like spring, autumn has its own music “.. thou hast thy music too” and he used words such as ‘choir, sing, soft, treble and twitter. The gnats are “a wailful choir”; the “hedge-crickets sing” and “now with treble soft, The redbreast whistles”.
But also there is a contrasting and somewhat overpowering topic of death and winter. This is portrayed in lines such as “While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,” and “Then in a wailful choir, the small gnats mourn” telling us they are about to die. The stanza hints at eternal beauty present which Keats was interested in and searched for – in the lines “hedge crickets sing” “redbreast whistles” “gathering swallows twitter” and “full grown lambs bleat” we are given a picture of life . I like his description of how the sinking sun touches “the stubble-plains with rosy hue”.
The last five lines in the stanza stand out with sounds combining to give a low drone and feeling of time. The stanza gives a feeling of rising and falling in comparative ways as it leads into winter – a cold and dark month. The swallows are gathering getting ready to leave for warmer countries and the clouds “bloom the soft dying day” . The winter relates to Keats as he was near death and I’m sure he thought very deeply as he wrote the last stanza. The whole poem presents a different and very imaginative view of nature.
The poem has a varied rhythm similar to a sonnet and it is very interesting how the poem is still full of richness even thought only one simile was used “.. like a gleaner… “. This poem shows Keats as a Romantic and shows his skill at describing his life in terms of nature and at the same time bringing to life a picture of an English autumn. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Keats section.