As I reread the poem, I thought about how much the world has changed in 193 years; yet I can still love and relate to the mood that Keats has immortalized here. Most of us no longer live in a pastoral setting like the one in the poem, but we can still understand the lazy, sleepy, rich feeling of a warm September afternoon. The sensory fullness of September, its glorious brilliance, is all the more sweet because we know it’s soon to be replaced by a season of muted colours, darkness, cold, and rain.
by John Keats
September 19, 1819
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-eves run;
To bend with apples the mossed 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-brimmed 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-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook1
Spares the next swath and all its twinéd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozing hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too—
While barréd 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;2
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;3
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
1 Scythe or sickle.
3 An enclosed garden near a house.