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Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Keats's Autumn

At least one Romantic may have found a rare appreciation for the Mother in Mother Nature. In Keats's poem "To Autumn," he personifies the season as a matured friend of the sun. The imagery, scents, and sounds of Autumn are o'er-brimmed by Summer and pour from Keats's pen in sensitive and intimately familiar words. Autumn is careless, drowsy, and patient. Autumn loads vines, plumps gourds, and pauses mid-harvest to spare flowers still budding for the bees. Certainly the Seasons were traditionally given female identities, but Keats never names his Autumn's gender. Instead he introduces a force of nature, and allows the reader to fill in the picture. I'm pretty sure Autumn is a woman - a rosy, mellow, beautiful woman; I feel certain Keats agrees.

47. To Autumn

EASON 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.

John Keats (1795–1821). The Poetical Works of John Keats. 1884.; 25 October 2011.

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