While penning ‘Ode to Autumn’ John Keats has tried to forget his pains by surrounding himself in the beauty of autumn. He describes autumn like as if it was a person and expresses his love for the season. The first stanza of the poem describes the settings of the season. Keats uses imagery to allow the audience to actually see and feel the joy of what he is describing. He has created an aura of Nature’s beauty before the actual harvest. He says that the season secretly plots with the maturing Sun to fill all fruits with ripeness to the core. ‘to swell the gourd and to plumb the hazel shells/with a sweet kernel’ gives the picture of a rich harvest ahead. It is as if the plants are bearing the ‘fruits of joy’ which would burst forth and shower the entire world with happiness. In the second stanza, Keats describes the wonderful activities of harvest. He uses personification to give human characteristic to the season. Autumn takes the form of a peasant woman and enjoys watching the promised picture of harvesting activities. The scene shifts from the granary floor to the corn fields where a harvester with his hook is reaping the crop of poppies overcome with exertion; he takes a nap ‘Drowsed with the fumes of poppies’. Next, the image of the ‘gleaner’ is presented, walking across a brook carefully balancing the load of harvested corn on his head. Autumn in the human form sits near a ‘cyder press’ patiently watching the juice of apples dripping from the press drop by drop. The steady dripping symbolizes the passing of the time. Keats has aptly visualized the ‘mellow fruitfulness’ of the season. As the season is rich in its plenty, so is man. He is supremely content and happy.
In the third stanza, Keats listens to the tingling sounds of the animals and insects. He had compared the sounds of autumn to musical notes.‘And ful-grown lambs loud beat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; And now with treble softThe red-brest whistles from a garden Croft”Keats has succeeded in creating a serene picture of beauty and life that is associated with the season of autumn. We find ourselves in the immediate presence of ‘Autumn’ experiencing the vigor and vitality of bountiful Nature. The poem initially moves from outward to inward, i.e. from the cosmic space to the bee’s cell, but later spreads out from the human environment to the void of the sky. ‘To Autumn’ accepts the inevitability of the cycle. And in the acceptance there is joy. Keats rejoices, first in the relationship of the season, sun, earth and then in the fruition that stems from that relationship. Keats has captured the essence of autumn in the poem. Surrounded by the explicit beauty of the Nature, listening to the marvel music of the season, John Keats has expressed the supreme delight and joy in creating the season of autumn. Of course ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever’. It is quite evident that the ‘Ode to Autumn’ suggests a joyful acceptance of life.************************************************************Abstract by: J Prabha