How Does John Keats Convey His Views on Human Existence

Categories: Conflict

The poem to autumn has a sense of conflict and ambiguity. It was written when the French revolution had finished creating and reflecting a sense of freedom and this can show how Keats writes when he is inspired. The poem has a very elevated style, like a celebration but also highlighting the death that autumn brings everyone and everything. Keats had also just lost his brother to tuberculosis and he had just caught the illness himself. This is why I think that he wrote this poem because he is trying to get the message across that when winter falls as quick as death can come there is always a renaissance or an eternal life which is symbolized as spring.

In the poem John Keats uses a lot of different ways to convey human life and also addresses Autumn as if it were a real person. One of the ways that he does this is how he portrays that there is beauty after death.

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This is evident because, as the poem goes on, he says “nor ever bid the spring adieu”. This implies that Autumn is followed by death, which is represented by winter and then spring is like a resurrection of life. This could also relate to religious beliefs which is another reference to human existence.

He also uses the sun to refer to human life as it is said at the start of the first stanza “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;” This is indicating that people come and go and one cannot change that but the sun will always rise.

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This could also mean that the sun is on a constant cycle of life, rebirth and has eternal growth of light and wisdom. Therefore this shows that the sun is the key to all life and this may be why Keats put it at the top of his poem because the sun is the start of all things living.

Additionally Autumn is personified as a beautiful woman. This is apparent in the second stanza when John Keats says “thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind”. John Keats usually uses a female to represent his poems. But this is also saying that charm and beauty co-exists with cruelty and death also relating to human life because you could be in a graceful open field but years before there was a war where you were standing.

In the last stanza it ends very joyful as he says “and the gathering swallows twitter in the skies”. But there is also a sign of darkness; it depends on how you look at it; this could mean that they appear like creepy vultures over a carcass. The word ‘swallows’ could also mean getting swallowed up into a dark hole. Also ‘twitter’ could portray a sense of hiding and secretive whispering. Furthermore Keats could be using these slightly melancholy words to give the impression and a deeper understanding that Autumn is starting to come to an end and winter is commencing.

John Keats uses juxtaposition in the third stanza by saying “while barred clouds bloom the soft dying day”. This is juxtaposition because clouds would be looming and could embody imminent death however bloom would symbolize life blossoming and creation. Also he uses this technique with soft and dying because the word soft conveys peace and beautifulness but then again dying shows death and the one conclusion of all things. This could also mean that in life there is always a diverse way of looking at things and that everything has a very distinct meaning in everyone else’s mind.

In ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, Keats study’s a marble Grecian urn and speculates on the story, history and the secrets that lie behind the immobile art. Throughout the poem he juxtaposes the immortality of art with the mortality of man. He appears to be very confused as he seems to be torn between jealousy and bitterness because the urn will be remembered forever however he will not. I also think that he has wrote this poem to give this inanimate object a sense of life.

From the start of the poem Keats addresses the ode with the word ‘thou’ this is used in the first two sentences where he says “thou still unravished bride of quietness, thou foster-child of silence and slow time” He continues to use this word throughout the poem to personify it. He then goes on to use the word ‘still unravished’ which states that the urn and its story has not yet been let free and everything that is on the urn is still waiting for the rest of their life to commence. John Keats also undermines the urns peaceful quality with slight undertones of violence, for example, ‘unravished bride’ and ‘foster child’. I think that he wrote these little fragments of darkness because of the jealousy that he has because he cannot live forever, unlike the art on the urn.

In the last three lines of the first stanza Keats has a lot of quick fire questions. “What men or god are these? What maidens loth? What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?” This gives off the impression that Keats is desperate to know the deep secrets hidden behind the art. Plus this is a good use of juxtaposition with the words ‘men or god’ and the immortality and mortality of human life and the art world. Additionally it is building up the pace for the reader and getting them tense to just start a new fresh stanza so that the reader will read more.

Nevertheless he sometimes shows how miserable the poem can be. He demonstrates this with the sentence “bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss” this gives the reader a sense of waste and unfulfilled love because the people who are about to kiss will never ever kiss because they are frozen in time. The word ‘never’ also aids this thought and helps the reader understand that they will never kiss. But on the other hand this could be a worthy thing because they are stuck in the most exciting moment in life for most people when you are about to do it, although you may be nervous about it it’s still nervously exciting.

Updated: Feb 24, 2024
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How Does John Keats Convey His Views on Human Existence. (2024, Feb 24). Retrieved from

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