To Autumn - dispute

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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To Autumn - dispute

Postby Dolores » Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:19 pm

Apologies if this topic has already been mentioned. I was in my study group today at Uni and we had to discuss this ode and the question was this;

Sheats argues that ‘In the centered poise with which it contemplates mingled beauty and sadness, Autumn most closely resembles its tonal and philosophic antithesis, Ode on Melancholy. The patterns of frustrated desire in Nightingale and Urn have largely disappeared, and the imagination seems content with what nature offers’ (p.97, on BB). Do you agree with this claim? If so, evidence it. (MR)

This caused quite a lot of disagreement in the group (5 of us) while some people were saying it's obvious he's unhappy at the end of the poem because the birds are leaving rather than coming home, others were saying he's not content or sad but he's accepted his situation. In the end we had to write that we didn't agree on entirely just to end the discussion. I'm not sure how I feel about it now. I do feel myself drifting more towards the acceptance side, maybe he is a little sad about it (certainly if he's reflecting on his mortality). But I do definitely agree that it's like 'Ode on Melancholy' and the 'frustrated desire' that Sheats refers to is absent to me because of the way in which the poem progresses. Unlike Nightingale and Grecian Urn Keats doesn't seem to me to be going back and forth between highs and lows but just to progress naturally, in both his emotions and the cycle of the seasons.

Does anybody else have any ideas about this question???


p.s. the reference for that quote is: Paul D. Sheats, 'Keats and the ode', in The Cambridge Companion to Keats, ed. by Susan J. Wolfson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 86-101
Pale were the sweet lips I saw, Pale were the lips I kiss'd, and fair the form I floated with about that melancholy storm
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Re: To Autumn - dispute

Postby Raphael » Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:55 am

Dolores wrote: I do feel myself drifting more towards the acceptance side, maybe he is a little sad about it (certainly if he's reflecting on his mortality). But I do definitely agree that it's like 'Ode on Melancholy' and the 'frustrated desire' that Sheats refers to is absent to me because of the way in which the poem progresses. Unlike Nightingale and Grecian Urn Keats doesn't seem to me to be going back and forth between highs and lows but just to progress naturally, in both his emotions and the cycle of the seasons.

Does anybody else have any ideas about this question???


I don't see any "fustrated desire" in it either- we know John loved Autumn and he is showing the beauty of this season and it's full of sensual imagery of the harvest of Nature.No- he isn't to- ing and fro-ing between highs and lows but celebrating this season.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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