My essay on 'To Autumn' help

BEFORE you post a request for help concerning study assignments or research papers here , PLEASE check with the SEARCH ENGINE above to see if there's already a thread on the subject.

Moderators: Saturn, Malia

My essay on 'To Autumn' help

Postby whatismouse » Tue Jan 23, 2007 6:54 am

background: im applying for a summer program with the telluride association. while it is for high school students i dont doubt any of the applicants essays will be anything less than college level.

the topic is to write a crit analysis of any text. i was going to do a concept album but found it to be so obscure that i resorted to reading all sorts of analysis' on it. then when i tried to write, it wasnt my own, it was just a compilation of everybody else's opinions.

so running low on time i asked my english teacher today for a simple poem that isnt so obscure that i wouldnt be able to reach plenty of conclusions on my own...etc.

she reccomended keats, and i found 'to autumn'

i read it a few times and produced this:


Jean Cocteau once said about poets: “The poet doesn't invent. He listens.” He may have just as well described John Keats and his poem: “To Autumn.” I can see Keats now, lying in a peaceful pasture watching the clouds shape or in a forest watching as ripples of a lazy brook lap against dangling feet. John Keats is a listener. There is nothing in Keats poetry that can replace the intrinsic beauty and objectivity of nature. “To Autumn” is merely one interpretation of nature as depicted by Keats. But Keats ability to grasp the content of nature and extract it onto paper is a feat unmatched. In Keats poem, Nature is to be accepted without judgment. Methods of sound, structure, and timing contribute to the manifestation of Keats theme of natures cyclic and impartial personality.
In the first stanza, Keats portrays Nature to be a docile creature, able to interact with the sun and plot the growth of fruit:
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines
Fruit is the seed of the plant and the beginnings of life. Keats writes with soft and harmless words meant to sooth and uplift the reader to coincide with birth. Especially prominent is Keats use of ‘m’ words like: mists, mellow, moss, plump, more and warm; and doubles up on them for his last sentence of the stanza: “For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.” His warm words parallel the warm colors of red and brown that emerges during autumn. The gentle words only disappear in their abundance as the beginning stanza comes to a close.
Even as the autumn activity slows in the second stanza as crops are harvested, Keats maintains his passive stance:
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
The season of autumn is parallel to the cider press, which as it comes to a close slowly “oozes.” “Reap’d” and “hook” inspire images of the grim reaper, a symbol of death. Keat uses these specific words to foreshadow what is to come in the final stanza.
As autumn continues, the verse grows colder and more obscure, but Keats remains emotionally detached. Death is presented to the reader metaphorically with “While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day.” Keats uses the day in this instance to symbolize the passage of time and the cycle of life. The poem itself is cyclical, beginning with the birth of the fruit, rise of the morning sun, and the beginning of autumn and ending with their subsequent deaths. Keats attests that death is a natural function of life by focusing not on the demise of the sun or the season, but on the subtle passivity of the lamb, cricket, and swallow as these occurrences are all accepted and ignored:
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.
Keats introduces the emotion of sadness in the final stanza: “Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn,” but does so not with judgment but only to personify nature. This signifies his admiration and respect for a stoic and spiritual nature. Keats repetitive personification of nature suggests his desire to amplify the emotional effect garnered by the tranquil splendor of autumn. A Humanly form of nature allows us to feel an intensely personal empathy and wonder.
“To Autumn” is written as a tribute to the season. John Keats reserves only normal and positive aspects of nature, and ignores the destructive elements. He does this so his argument for the objectivity of Autumn can be made sans distractions. People must be able to relate to nature in its beauty before they can also accept the loss and mystique of it. Keat argues that life is beautiful, even in its closure. Man has become progressively more technologically affluent, but the secret to achieving happiness has not been discovered. Keats purpose may not have been this, but a strong argument is made by ‘To Autumn’ for the divinity of nature to be explored to find inspiration for a comfortable and happy life.


now because i wrote this without any outside influence i am potentially off base with some of the stuff. im especially curious about the "m's" in the first stanza and wether that is just coincidence. i also found the second and third stanza to have 18 "y's" while the first stanza had only 3. i couldnt think of any reason for this and so i just ignored it.

and i really dont understand the first part of the second stanza.

also the "maturing sun" - does this refer to the time of day and height of the sun in the sky or to the fact that the sun ripens or "matures" the fruits? or both?

so, i need to fix this up so its coherent, i need to probably double the length, tighten it up, add a thesis, etc.

any help i could get would be much appreciated. thanks!
Last edited by whatismouse on Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2007 6:37 am

Postby greymouse » Thu Jan 25, 2007 4:42 pm

whatismouse, it seems like you nailed it to me. I really like your analysis and think you definitely have the point.

I also don't understand the beginning of the 2nd stanza. I figure he's definitely speaking to Autumn personified, but I don't know why he would say what he does.

I'm sure "maturing" refers to the setting sun.

The only part I'm not sure about is:

Keats means for the reader to step away with a sense of satisfaction with life

Does this really follow logically from your beautiful preceding analysis? I think though that being satisfied with life's closure or simply acknowleding it is symbolically implied. It's a tough call though.

Sorry I can't help more, but I think you were just spot on and did the poem justice.
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2006 9:16 pm
Location: Michigan, USA

Postby dim.conceived.glories » Thu May 17, 2007 4:15 pm

My interpretation of the first part of the second stanza:

Keats is basically here addressing a personified Autumn, and the season of summer in the first stanza is now moving into autumn. The pace changes and becomes almost still, echoing the drowsy slow pace of the end of the summer. He's describing Autumn as drowsy and sleepy, and the image of the personified Autumn 'sitting careless on the granary floor' or 'sound asleep' allows him to emphasise this, and the restfulness of the season.

Hope that helped!
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 3:54 pm

Return to Help and Homework

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests