A Critical Appreciation of the poem “To Autumn” by John Keats
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The poem we are analyzing is called “To Autumn” by a poet named John Keats. The poem is an Ode to autumn. It’s a very serious, thoughtful poem that praises the season autumn. From the language and words Keats uses, we can tell this poem was written some time ago in the early 18th century. The poem is dedicated to autumn and is an expression of joy and harvest.
We can tell this poem is an ode because of the way he praises autumn ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.’ The first stanza is mainly about the ripeness of the fruits in autumn and the load and blessing of fruits. Also, it tells us how autumn is a time of plenty. We can tell it is a time of plenty because throughout the poem Keats keeps referring to ripeness of fruits, ‘to bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees…’ ‘…Ripeness to the core…’ ‘To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells with a sweet kernel; to set budding more.’
In the first stanza the poet talks about the fruits, he uses words like fruitfulness, maturing, ripeness, plump, swell, sweet kernel, apples, hazel shells and gourd. ‘Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun’ shows autumn is a close friend of the sun. Keats creates a image that the reader has whilst reading his poem ‘With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run’ it makes the reader feel closer to the poem and not at a distance. He emphasizes the poem ‘Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ showing the fruit is soft sweet and ready. Also, ‘and fill all fruit with ripeness to the core…’ shows emphasis. He tells us how autumn brings lots of harvest ‘to bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees…’ he is saying there is so much fruit on the tree, the branches are starting to bend because the fruits are so heavy. Autumn is one of nature’s cycles.
‘To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells’ shows that the fruits in autumn are very ripe. In the first stanza, Keats uses alliteration to stress the meaning to the reader for example ‘mists and mellow’ and ‘clammy cells.’
In the second stanza, Keats specifically focuses on the harvest of grain and uses a lot of personification. ‘Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind…’ meaning to blow away the outer parts of grain. Grain is personified. It seems that autumn is being described as a farm girl in stanza 2. ‘Thee sitting careless’ and ‘thy hair soft-lifted’ ‘…Sound asleep’ makes it seem like he is describing autumn as a farm girl. He describes how the grain is harvested ‘ or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep’ showing that trenches are dug by plowing and then the seeds are put inside. Keats uses alliteration in the second stanza to emphasize the message ‘winnowing wind.’ It gives a cool, chilly effect and gives us more information of autumn’s atmosphere and surroundings.
Stanza three describes the ending nature of autumn and the sounds that are created during autumn. He asks many rhetorical questions like ‘Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?’ he seems surprised that spring has ended and the flowers have gone. Many sounds of autumn are used like ‘wailful choir’, ‘lambs loud bleat’, ‘hedge-crickets sing’, and ‘red-breast whistles’ and ‘swallows twitter’. Keats uses autumn and it’s rich images as symbols for his own feelings. Keats is very observant and uses many adjectives throughout the poem. He uses personification in the 3rd stanza ‘soft-dying day’ meaning sunset, this makes the sentence stand out. It influences the reader because they can imagine what Keats is trying to get across through personification by all the abstract ideas.
In conclusion, Keats is using autumn and it’s rich images to represent his own feelings.