Friday, September 19

To Autumn

John Keats wrote his remarkable poem, "To Autumn," in a single afternoon on this day in 1819. It was first published a year later in the Talor and Hessey edition of Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems. It has been reprinted innumerable times since. In fact, according to University of North Carolina professor William Harmon, the three-stanza ode inspired by the beauty of the changing season has become the most anthologized poem in the English language:

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-eves 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 cyder-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.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Keats wrote so many incredibly good poems in such a short poetically productive life that any of us should hesitate before we slap words on a page with connecting meter and rhymes lest we be embarassingly compared to the real thing, meaning Keats or Frost or a few others.