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An Analysis Of John Keats's "Ode To Autumn"

2047 words - 9 pages

"Ode to Autumn" was the last poem John Keats wrote before his death and is widely considered amongst the most famous poems. Popular with critics as well as poetry pleasure readers it has received a wide berth of praise; Harold Bloom claims it to be "one of the subtlest and most beautiful of all Keats's odes, and as close to perfect as any shorter poem in the English Language". However this ode has some marked differences from Keats' other works; for instance the lack of visionary dreamer, delve into the imagination or any kind of narrative voice or persona. Very much grounded in reality of the real world the rich language paired with strong imagery submerges the reader in sights, sounds and ...view middle of the document...

The depiction of autumn in the ode does not- at first glance- seem to concur with the elevated language often associated with this ode style. Brian Stone has suggested there are many "images presented [that] are of actuality, and not metaphorical in any sense" However the simplistic of the language does not, in my opinion, simplify the message nor intent of the poem. The opening stanza is highly descriptive in its nature appealing to our sense of visualization. The language upon which the images are built upon has been described as "more monosyllabic…than most of what he wrote" and it cannot be denied that lines such as "With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run" in their monosyllabic wording and regular iambic pentameter are almost mundane. However Keats saves such lines by employing other subtle techniques, such as his use of sounds- the quoted line for instance, where the repeated long vowel sounds (most noticeably the 'a') and 'th' phonemes create a musical tone. Another example of such a technique is seen in widely quoted opening line "Season of mellow mists and fruitfulness" with its alliterative long 's', 'm', 'l' and long vowel sounds is slow and easy, reflective of the early hour of the setting alluded by the "mists". The idea of "mellow" suggests a laid-back and gentle nature of the "fruitfulness"; which has connotations in the literal sense as well as the idea of rewarding. Keats describes Autumn as a "Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun" where the word "maturing" has the highest significance for it can be taken in a couple of different ways. It can that the sun 'matures' all the fruit etc or it can be seen in the sense of the 'aging' sun linking with idea of Autumn being the stage before the winter- often symbolic for death. However at this point in the ode Keats is describing autumn in terms of a season at the peak of fulfillment and continuing ripening to an almost unbearable intensity. Initially Autumn and the sun "load and bless" by ripening the fruit. The idea of "bless" has associations in the religious context elevating Autumn to the personified state of a Goddess. Keats uses a hyperbole to suggest that the apples are so numerous that the tree bends: "To bend with apples" Powerful adjectives are used to convey the sheer abundance of the fruit: "And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; /To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells/With a sweet kernel" where the chosen words "fill" "swell" and "plump" convey the idea of bursting with juices with the parallel structure "to load..." "to bend..." "to swell..." helps emphasis the abundance of the images. The images are all very natural and paint the fruit clearly in the mind bringing to mind lush and vibrant colours such as red, oranges, and plum purples.While the description of the autumn day is beautiful and almost romantic in its nature, his use of words' collocations and oppositions suggest the negative side of autumn and the cyclical nature of...

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