To Autumn

On the childrens’ TV Channel, CBeebies, the presenters put together a short film of singing and dancing and season-related images 4 times a year (plus a Christmas Special). (One for each season, obviously!) Anyway, the new one for Autumn begins with the line “season of mist and mellow fruitfulness” and I happened to mention to DH how lovely it was. He looked rather surprised that I wasn’t aware that it was from a poem by Keats. Who knew? Not me (WW1 War Poetry for O Level English Literature) but mum did (always full of surprises!) Do read on … this time for a short English Lit lesson!

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-eaves 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 shallows, 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.

The bods over at Wikipedia reckon that “To Autumn” has been regarded by critics as one of the most perfect short poems in English literature. It is regarded as Keats’s last great poem and is one of the most anthologized English lyric poems. So there.

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