Ode to Indian summer: reading John Keats’s “To Autumn”

sunflowersThe extended summer we’ve been experiencing in Vancouver reminded me of my favourite Keats poem, “To Autumn”. He wrote the poem on September 19, 1819, so I’m a few days late posting it here.

tomatoes

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.

pumpkins

To Autumn

by John Keats

September 19, 1819

I

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.

fall flowers

II

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.

III

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.

sunset sky with geese

1 Scythe or sickle.

2 Domain.

3 An enclosed garden near a house.

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About nancytinarirunswrites

I used to be known as a competitive runner, but now I have a new life as a professional writer and editor. I'm even more obsessive about reading, writing, and editing than I was about running. Running has had a huge influence on my life, though, and runner's high does fuel creativity. Maybe that's why this blog evolved into being 95% about running, but through blogging I'm also learning about writing and online communication. I'm fascinated by how the Internet has changed work, learning, and relationships. I love to connect in new and random ways!
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