“To Autumn” (1820)
John Keats, (born October 31, 1795, London, England—died February 23, 1821, Rome, Papal States [Italy]), English Romantic lyric poet who devoted his short life to the perfection of a poetry marked by vivid imagery, great sensuous appeal, and an attempt to express a philosophy through classical legend. (From Britannica.com)
"To Autumn" is one of the last poems written by Keats. His method of developing the poem is to heap up imagery typical of autumn. His autumn is early autumn, when all the products of nature have reached a state of perfect maturity. Autumn is personified and is perceived in a state of activity. In the first stanza, autumn is a friendly conspirator working with the sun to bring fruits to a state of perfect fullness and ripeness. In the second stanza, autumn is a thresher sitting on a granary floor, a reaper asleep in a grain field, a gleaner crossing a brook, and, lastly, a cider maker. In the final stanza, autumn is seen as a musician, and the music which autumn produces is as pleasant as the music of spring — the sounds of gnats, lambs, crickets, robins and swallows. (From Cliff’s Notes).
Do you agree with critics who claim that this poem doesn't really have much to say? Is there a "message" in "To Autumn"? If so, what is it?
Why do so many people think the poem is pretty darned perfect?
Does the end of the poem provide any resolution? Is there any "conflict" to speak of in the poem?
Does this poem challenge any of the traditional associations that people have with autumn, or does it reinforce them? Explain.
Does "To Autumn" feel spontaneous, as though Keats jotted it down furiously after taking a walk, or does it feel meticulous and planned?
Why is the poem considered to be one of the "great odes"? Could you make an argument that it's not an ode at all?