It’s tricky to talk about the poet Keats without mentioning another poet, Thomas Chatterton, who had the kind of tragic story that Keats would have identified with the story of Chatterton who was born in 1752 is thought of as the first of the Romantic poets and is widely regarded as someone who embodied the romantic ideals of youth, imagination and potential reality rather than actuality.
In other words, he had the potential to achieve so much more than his short life allowed him to geeks himself made a connection between the poem To Autumn and the poet Thomas Chatterton.
In a letter he wrote, after an evening walk near Winchester, he wrote how beautiful the season is now how fine the air I never liked stubble fields as much as now.
I am better than the chili green of the spring. Somehow, I stumbled playing looks warm.
This struck me so much in my Sunday walk that I composed upon it. I’ve been at different times so happy as not to know what weather it was.
I always somehow associate Chatterton with autumn. He’s the purest writer in the English language.
Now story associated with Chatterton is while walking along some Pancras churchyard he was absorbed in his own thoughts so much so that he took notice of an open grave and fell in.
The person he was with at the time helped him out and joked that he was happy to assist with the resurrection of a genius.
Chatterton replied, My dear friend. I have been at war with the grave for some time now.
Chatterton killed himself Three days later, in August 1770, he went to his attic room and brought streets tore into fragments and his poetry that he could find before drinking a file of arsenic.
He was 17 years old. And for Keats Chatterton was the emblem of the outcast poets crushed by neglect, and of suffering use generally.
So in Keith associates Chatterton with autumn, he is talking about the way the season can represent both fulfillment and finality.
Abundance, blended with the certainty of decline and loss is pretty much the view that this is one of the last poems that Keats ever wrote. his money was running out.
And just over a year after writing this poem, he died in Rome.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies. John Keats.
Keats is a poet of the senses. And the pastoral scene of to Autumn is full of sense you will images The season of autumn is usually associated in literature any way with life coming to an end.
But in the first stanza keeps paints a picture of nature in its prime, the time or season and climate, the maturing Some are working together or conspiring as close friends to bring nature to a peak of abundance, maturity, and ripeness.
This stanza keeps a list for things, which this close relationship between the seasons and the sun has achieved and I’m just going to pick them out here for you before explaining them in a bit more depth.
So Thing number one to load and bless the vines with fruit. Secondly, to make the trees bend with right apples, thirdly, to make large fruit and small nuts, swell with plump goodness. And finally to make more and more buds. So there are more and more flowers for the bees.
So let’s take these one at a time.
The first is a reference to the grapevines which are now loaded with fruit.
Notice how nature is full of life and energy is it runs around the fetch Eve’s fat, by the way, is a traditional English way of roofing houses using a straw and even just the bottom of a thatched roof.
Next, are the apples on the fruit trees which is so heavy with ripeness to the core that the branches are bending with their weight and ready to drop.
We’re then shown how both large fruit gourds which are like squashes pumpkins, marrows and that sort of thing, and much smaller nuts.
Hazel’s have been fattened with Colonel which is the edible part of both, and then now the very peak of ripeness.
And finally, we see the effect of early autumn on the flowers whose abundance is shown in this clever structural device, where more is emphasized by repetition on the next line, and still more which creates this sense of overflowing abundance.
We see it at the end of the standard. With the clammy cells, which are the honey comb made by the bees, they are over brimming with sweet sticky honey.
The previous season of summer is mentioned which reminds us that this is very early autumn.
So altogether we have a surfeit of nature, which introduces the first subtle note of caution in this poem.
This is created through the imagined overconfidence of the bees who enjoying the oversupply of budding flowers feel that warm days will never cease because they will.
And remember in this poem, we need to connect a season over imbued with energy, life and potential with human life. cut short.
All throughout this stanza though, we have these really long vowel sounds adding to the rich century you will imagery.
In the second stanza, Keats personifies nature, addressing it directly as the and the personification is, first of all, of a woman sitting sleepily in a grain store with her hair being gently lifted by the breeze.
This alliteration helping to mimic that sound.
And I draw your attention again to the point I made at the start, which is a Keats is a poet who delights in the senses.
Incidentally, the word winnowing as well as being evocative of the sounds of the season is also a term used to describe part of the brain producing process to winnow is to blow a current of air through the grain in order to remove the wheat from the chaff. So we’re left with an image of nature and Reaper in harmony.
But the mention of storehouses and groceries indicates that has moved on from the previous stanza, and the harvest is well underway.
Although the lazy tone and imagery of this stands continue with the development of the previous personification, this time, the female figure of autumn is found sound asleep, on a half reaped Pharaoh.
Now a pharaoh looks like this. It’s the channels created by a plow, where the crops will be planted and eventually harvest.
The fact that these are only half reaped means only half the crop in the field has been collected.
And the reason for this is the drowsy personification of autumn, which should be harvesting the crops has fallen asleep in one of the pharaohs mid swing.
In fact, if we go back and have a look at it here while the hook spares the next suede, she’s just about to take the next swing of a side or hook and instead has become to content to work further and has fallen asleep.
There is however around natural note added to this slumber when we learn that this is a drug induced sleep the few of poppy poppies. And when you read poppies in romantic literature, think opium.
Now, although there was some scholarly claims I think Mike made back in 2012 that keeps himself was an opium addict.
These claims have not been widely supported. But he certainly knew people who had experimented with the drug Samuel Taylor Coleridge for one and so his intent is he was much more to warn, than to indulge.
The final image in this stanza gives us the clearest indication yet of the moving on of time, the personification of autumn continues, and this time, we see her patiently waiting by a cider press.
Now, cider is made from overripe apples, so the fruit is no longer at its best, but slightly overdone past eating and needing to be used as a late autumn beverage.
Now notice how the images have evolved in this final stanza.
The winnowing wind stands a two has become inconsistent and the insects lifted and lowered with it lives or dies.
In fact, this part of the poem is full of the sounds of late autumn, the bleating spring lambs, and now full-grown the crickets, which are another familiar insect in the UK.
We even see a robin redbreast and there’s no sure indication of the coming in winter than that.
But if we needed one then keeps is on hand to provide. In winter, the birds especially swallows gather together in a great flock in preparation for the migration to warmer climates in the south.
And we left with the sound of these birds gathering in the skies, as the surplus of light and warmth and food or at an end being replaced with images of emptiness, desertion, like the poet Chatterton death.