Ode To Autumn By John Keats

Categories: Plot

Nature was one of the driving forces that inspired most of his works. Keats always tried to rely on nature and it’s beauty and even dedicated it to nature itself. Unlike Wordsworth who saw nature as a God and praised it in his poems. Keats saw nature as a form of beauty which he tried to adore and romanticize through his poems and thus enriching it with his imagination. Nature is abundant but unconscious: man alone can understand the significance of all this profusion; only man can lament the passing of the year at the same time as looking forward to the future rebirth and renewal.

As so often in Keats, there is a fusion of joy in present beauty and also pain, as the poet serenely contemplates the transience of everything in nature. The Ode to Autumnis full of the feeling of nature’s generosity. The combination of labour, delight and natural wealth offer the impression of man happy and at peace with the world in which he lives.

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Man is not the dominant force in the scenes depicted. The imagery stresses the astonishing variety of nature: the profusion of crops, the flowers, the clouds, the lambs, the whistling robin, even the cloud of gnats. The ode not only celebrates the beauty of autumn but also, by focusing on its passing, also contemplates the transitory nature of life. Keats does not attempt to impose any didactic purpose on his readers. The focus is on the senses and on nature’s fecundity.

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There is no explicit thought or philosophy in the poem and the voice we hear never uses the word ‘I’. All created things pass away, even the most beautiful. Keats’ imagery implies what readers all know: that life is cyclical and new life will arise out of death and decay. The poem implies the cycle of life and the interconnectedness of maturity, death and rebirth as one season gives way to another. One image that conveys this is by describing the animals bleating as ‘full-grown lambs’.

Keats frequently alludes to the passing of time through the characters and images that appear in the poem. The abundant landscape is juxtaposed by imagery that symbolizes exhaustion: vines and tree branches are heavy with summer’s harvest, but the speaker foresees the cider press squeezing ‘the last oozings’ of the season’s fruits. In the final stanza, Keats uses language directly associated with death. Throughout the poem, Keats utilizes figures from the natural world to ground the tensions between life and death. Summer’s hard work is evident in the abundant landscape, but the speaker foresees the moment at which all of Nature’s labor will be used up and lost. While the buzzing bees and blooming flowers of the first stanza symbolize the endurance of life, the ‘barred clouds’ and “wailful choir” of gnats refer to the beginning of the end. The seasonal motif of Keats' Ode To Autumn.In his recent comparison of Keats’s ode” To Autumn” with Constable’s Hay Wain, Mr. DS Bland observes that the poem” moves through three stanzas, and is concerned, like Constable’s picture, with the everyday appearances of the countryside of southern England.” Having remarked of the picture” that its composition lay in movements along three arcs which between them led the eye over the whole area of the canvas and successively drew it from the foreground to the background,” he says of Keats’s ode:” If any deliberately-chosen scaffolding was fixed on by the poet.. it was most likely... to have been the morning-noon-night movement,” a diurnal progression suggested by” mists” in the first stanza, the reaper sleeping” through the hottest part of the day” in the second, and the phrase” soft-dying day” in the last.’ A more fundamental movement, however, would seem to be the seasonal progression from the” mellow fruitfulness” of the beginning with its ungathered bounty, through the gathered” store” and apples already in cider-press (or” halfreaped furrow”) of the second, to the” stubble-plains” and swallows wheeling before migration at the end. For example, the” maturing sun” of the first stanza is not of the early morning, but one with which autumn is” conspiring” to ripen all. Certainly there is a kind of early-middle-late correspondence suggested between day and season, but Keats does not say that Autumn sleeps” through the hottest part of the day”(She is merely” sound asleep”), and the opening line specifically uses the phrase” of mist” to qualify” Season.” Even the” soft-dying day” is not

so much the end of a particular or ’ideal’ day as it is any late afternoon in the late autumn, time of day and season being appropriately the same. The observer of the poetical picture, then, may want to let the imagery suggest the day-movement, but should beware of seeking too literal support for it in the text. If the poem does progress seasonally, its time-structure makes larger its imaginative design. Indeed late autumn stimulated Keats originally:” I never lik’d stubble-fields so much as now-Aye better than the chilly green of the Spring. Somehow a stubble-plain looks warm-in the same way that some pictures look warm. This ’Logical Structure’ in the Ode To Autumn,” struck me so much in my Sunday’s walk that I composed upon it.’’ Yet it does not follow from this that Keats is trying to paint a picture in poetry (ut pictura poesis), for the warmth of his images and the atmosphere of ripeness and languor in the first two stanzas reveal how his imagination harked back from the stubble-plains to an earlier fecundity. The natural imagery of the first stanza, moreover, is different from the touch of literary art in the quasi-personification of Autumn as a woman in the second. The ripeness, in fullness to satiety, of plumping hazel shells and honeycombs overfilled by Summer naturally leads forward to the harvest-home lassitude of Autumn asleep on the furrow, and just as ripeness and languor characterize these lines, so does poignant pensiveness the last. 4 Perhaps the sharpest contrast in the ode is suggested by the” songs of Spring,” a shift from imagery of sight to hearing.

Thus the seasonal motif is prevalent throughout the poem and brings out the different phases of life through the progression of the poem. Thus there is prevalent ripeness in the poem that grows as the poem progresses. Keats' use of nature as a personification of the journey is extraordinary and magnificent.

Updated: Feb 27, 2024
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Ode To Autumn By John Keats. (2024, Feb 27). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/ode-to-autumn-by-john-keats-essay

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