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Meaning Of The 'To Autumn' Poem

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 5681 words Published: 11th May 2017

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It was on an early Monday morning during English class when we first met John Keats. We met on page 17 of our English workbook ‘Mirrors’ while we were reading the poem ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’. Unfortunately our encounter was way too short to get a good impression of the poet. But when our English teacher handed out a list of assignments for the test week we saw a new opportunity how to meet him again. We were determined to get to know him better so we chose for a second poem. This time we read the poem ‘To Autumn’ and three other poems about Autumn.

In this report we are going to do research on the question: ‘Is ‘To Autumn’ praising Autumn or is there more to the poem?’ The answer on the question will be revealed in the conclusion. We also will compare the poem “To Autumn” with the other poems.

The poem ‘To Autumn’ is a tribute to Autumn and the change of seasons. It is divided into three stanzas, each of these contains eleven lines. There is no particular rhyme scheme. The first stanza has an ABABCDEDCCE pattern, while the second and the third have an ABABCDECDDE pattern. Just like in almost every other poem each sentence starts with a capital letter. The sentences are long and incomplete. In his poem John Keats gives a clear and vivid description of the three stages of the seasons: growth, harvest and death. When you read the poem you can easily imagine yourself in the English landscape during Autumn.

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In the first stanza John Keats takes you to an orchard on a misty day. Nature is growing and flourishing with the help of the ‘maturing’ sun. It is almost ready to be harvested. Keats often uses personification in his poem in order to give autumn human qualities. In this couplet he calls autumn the “close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”. autumn is also shown to be “conspiring” with the sun in order to produce a fruitful harvest. Next, we can clearly see a hyperbole. John mentions a tree which has so many apples that it bends. Also the apples are ripe to the core, the gourds are “swelling” and the hazel nuts are “plumping”. Finally, there is a huge number of flowers. The bees can hardly cope with this abundance because their honeycombs are overflowing since summer.

The words “maturing”, “mellow” and “ripeness” play a double meaning in a figurative way. A person who is in the “autumn” of his life possesses these qualities of having matured physically and more mellow in manner or mood which is the opposite of youthfulness, liveliness and physical energy. There is spring, summer and then autumn. So is the human condition of old age. A stage of life succeeding youth, adulthood and a stage preceding death, the winter of one’s life, so to speak.

The second stanza starts with the rhetoric question: “Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?”. The process of growing and flourishing of nature is slowing down. Here Keats personifies autumn as a woman who is sitting on the granary floor with her hair “soft-lifted” by the “winnowing” wind. She has also been seen asleep in the fields drowsed by the fume of poppies. Patiently she is waiting for the last “oozing” to be squeezed by the cider-press.

The third stanza also starts with a question: “Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?”. Spring has in line 1 the same function as summer in the first stanza , they represent progress. Furthermore, spring is a time of a rebirth of life, an association which contrasts with the explicitly dying autumn of this stanza. Autumn In addition spells death for the now “full-grown” lambs which were born in spring. They are slaughtered in autumn. And the answer to the question of line 1 : “Where are Spring’s songs?”, is that they are past or dead. The sounds that Keats describes are autumn’s songs.

The day, like the season, is dying. The dying of day is presented as “soft-dying.” Its dying also creates beauty. The setting sun casts a “bloom” of “rosy hue” over the harvested fields. I believe that Keats accepts all aspects of autumn. Including the dying, but he also introduces sadness: the gnats “mourn” in a “wailful choir” and the doomed lambs bleat. It is a “light” or enjoyable wind that “lives or dies,” and the redbreast whistles soft. The swallows are gathering for their winter migration. Keats blends living and dying, the pleasant and the unpleasant, like yin and yang; they keep each other in balance.

Besides, no one could talk about “To Autumn” without mentioning the rich imagery . All five senses are stimulated. We have the buzzing “bees” and the “winnowing wind” and the “music” of Autumn as well as the “choirs of gnats,” the “lambs loud bleat,” the songs of “Hedge-crickets,” and the “red-breast whistles.” There are plenty of touch images as well such as the “mists,” the “clammy cells” of the bees, Autumn’s “soft-lifted” hair, the “oozings” of the ripe fruit. Touch, of course, can bleed into taste imagery as the “oozings” of ripe fruit also appeals to taste as does the “fruit with ripeness to the core,” the “sweet kernel”, the “cider press”, and simply the noun “apples”. In regards to smell, Keats adds “later flowers for the bees” and “the fume of poppies.” Most of the examples above can also be sight images.

The life of John Keats

The life of John Keats was not easy. He had no advantages of birth, wealth or education, he lost his parents when he was young, watched one brother die of tuberculosis, the other emigrate to America, poverty kept him from marrying the woman he loved and he achieved lasting fame only after his death. Although all this misery has never stopped his commitment to poetry.

During the year 1819 all his greatest poetry was written: ‘Lamia’, ‘The Eve of St. Agnes’, the great odes (‘On Indolence’, ‘On a Grecian Urn’, ‘To Psyche’, ‘To a Nightingale’, ‘On Melancholy’, and of course ‘To Autumn’) and the two versions of “Hyperion”. This poetry was composed under the strain of illness and his growing obsessive love for Fanny Brawne. Around 1780 there were a lot of new inventions which we now know was the sign that the industrial revolution was coming. Eventually the revolution started around 1850. The political situation was not great in England. The population grew enormous, from 1750 till 1820 it grew from 7.8 million people to 14.3 million people. There was not enough food to give everybody a meal so there where tensions in the agriculture and the paychecks in the industry were falling. In 1811 there were riots in the upcoming factory’s, the people destroyed machines because they thought the machines were the troublemakers. This didn’t influenced the work of John Keats.

After his brother’s death John Keats moved in with his friend Charles Armitage Brown who was the neighbour of the love of his life Fanny Brawne. He wanted to marry her but he was short of money and thought that writing plays would be more profitable than writing poems. Therefore he went to the Isle of Wight where he stayed at a cheap hotel and worked on several plays like “Lamia” and “Otho the great”. In August Keats leaves the Isle of Wight for Winchester where he got inspired to write the poem “To Autumn”. After three months of absence he meets Fanny again and knows that has to marry her. The moment when he wrote “To Autumn”, Keats saw a bright future and thought he could solve his money problems by writing successful plays and poems. After that problem was solved he thought he could marry the love of his life, Fanny.

“To Autumn” is perhaps Keats’s most famous and beloved work. It is the final work in a group of poems known as Keats’s “1819 odes”. Keats described the feeling behind its composition in a letter to his friend Reynolds: “How beautiful the season is now – How fine the air. A temperate sharpness about it […]I never lik’d the stubbled fields as much as now – Aye, better than the chilly green of spring. Somehow the stubble plain looks warm – in the same way as some pictures look warm – this struck me so much in my Sunday’s walk that I composed upon it”. He got inspired after walking near Winchester on an autumnal evening. The work marks the end of his poetic career as he needed to earn money and could no longer devote himself to the lifestyle of a poet.

John Keats was born in London on 31 October 1795 to Thomas and Frances Jennings Keats. He was the oldest of their four children – George (1797-1841), Thomas (1799-1818) and Frances Mary “Fanny” (1803-1889). His father worked as a stableman, but died in 1804 of a fractured skull by falling down from his horse. His mum remarried two months afterwards. However, she quickly left her new husband and went to live with her four children at their grandmother in Edmonton, near London. In 1810 His mum died and left the children in the custody of their grandmother.

Keats was educated at Clarke’s School in Enfield. In 1810 he quitted at Clarke’s to become a surgeon’s apprentice at Thomas Hammond’s apothecary shop in Edmonton. His first surviving poem “An Imitation of Spenser” comes in 1814 when Keats was nineteen. On 1 October 1815, Keats registered to become a student at Guy’s Hospital where he would study for five years. Within a month of starting, he was accepted for a ‘dresserschip’ position within the hospital, which is a significant promotion he took up in March the following year. During his time at Guy’s, he lived in various rooms near London Bridge.

He was also devoting increasing time to the study of literature. On 5 May 1816, Leigh Hunt, a poet and critic greatly admired by Keats, agreed to publish the sonnet “O Solitude” in his magazine The Examiner which was the leading liberal magazine of the day.

In 1817 John moved into rooms at 1 Well Walk with his brothers. George and John both nursed their brother Tom who was suffering from tuberculosis. In June 1818 Keats began a walking journey around Scotland, Ireland and the lake district with his friend Charles Armitage Brown. During the walking tour Keats caught a bad cold and according to Brown Keats was too thin and fevered to proceed the journey. On his return Keats continued to nurse Tom, continuously exposing himself to the highly infectious disease. Tom Keats died on 1 December that year.

John Keats moved again, to live in Wentworth Place in Brown’s house. Keats composed here five of his six great odes in April and May. At this time he had met the eighteen years old Frances “Fanny” Brawne, who lived next door with her widowed mother. She became the love of his life but he was to poor to marry her. During his time at Wentworth he also wrote “The Eve of St. Agnes”, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”, “Hyperion Otho” and “Lamia”. In September, very short of money, he approached his publishers with his new poems. They were unimpressed with the collection, finding the presented versions of “Lamia” confusing, and describing “St Agnes” as having a “sense of pettish disgust” and “a ‘Don Juan’ style of mingling up sentiment and sneering […] a poem unfit for ladies”

In 1820 Keats began showing increasingly serious signs of tuberculosis and suffered two lung hemorrhages in the first few days of February. He lost large amounts of blood in the attacks and was then bled further by his attending physician. At the suggestion of his doctors, he agreed to leave London and moved to Italy with his friend Joseph Severn. On 13th September, he left for Gravesend and four days later Keats and Severn boarded the sailing brig The Maria Crowther. Keats wrote his final version of “Bright Star” aboard the ship.

On arrival in Italy, he moved into a villa on the Spanish Steps in Rome. Despite attentive care from Severn and Dr. John Clark, the poet’s health rapidly deteriorated. When Keats arrived in Rome in November, Dr Clark is said to have declared that the source of his illness was “mental exertions and application” and that his illness was chiefly “situated in his Stomach”. He finally diagnosed consumption (now called tuberculosis) and put Keats on a starvation diet, an anchovy and a piece of bread a day, to reduce the blood flow to his stomach. He also bled Keats, which was a standard treatment of the day but would have contributed to his weakness.

John Keats died on 23 February 1821 and was buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome. His last request was to be buried under a tombstone reading, without his name, but bearing the legend Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water. His friends Severn and Brown respected his wish and engraved his grave stone with a lyre with broken strings,

This Grave

contains all that was mortal,

of a



on his Death Bed,

in the Bitterness of his heart,

at the Malicious Power of his Enemies,

Desired these Words to be engraven on his Tomb Stone

“Here lies One

Whose Name was writ in Water”

John Keats. Source: http://robertarood.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/keatshiltonnew.jpgkeatshiltonnew.jpg

Now we have warmed up, the next poem puts the Autumn season in a whole different perspective. The poem is “Autumn: A Dirge” and was written by Percy Bysshe Shelley, a person who had huge admiration for John Keats. The two got introduced by a mutual friend, Leigh Hunt, towards the end of 1816. Keats had reservations about Shelley’s dissolute behaviour. Despite this, the two poets exchanged letters when Shelley and his wife moved to Italy. When Keats started to feel ill, the Shelleys invited him to stay with them in Pisa, but Keats choose to travel with Severn. Despite this rejection, Shelley’s affection for Keats remained undimmed until Shelley’s death in 1822 when a copy of Keats’ works was found in a pocket on his drowned body. Shelley said of Keats, after inviting him to stay with him in Pisa: “I am aware indeed that I am nourishing a rival who will far surpass me and this is an additional motive & will be an added pleasure.” Keats’ death inspired him to write the poem “Adonaïs” which Shelley regarded as the “least imperfect” of his works.

“Autumn: A Dirge” seems to be the opposite from the previous poem. Only the title doesn’t make a sunny impression. Each sentence starts with a capital letter and the lines are incomplete. The poem contains rhyme, but there is no particular scheme to distinguish. The first couplet has an ABCDBEEECCF pattern And the second one has an ABCDBEEECCC pattern. Shelley uses a lot of alliteration in his work. For example “warm” and “wind” in the first sentence and “bare” and “bough” in the second sentence. The letters ‘b’ and ‘w’ are dominating in both couplets. Adjectives like “warm”, “bleak”, “bare”, “saddest”, “chill” and “nipped” which are emphasizing the meaning of the nouns “sun”, “wind”… etcetera. It is interesting too to notice his use of repetition. Repetition serves as emphasis, but the stanza provide a contrast rather than a similarity. The first stanza ends in death and the second in life. The happening that Death comes before life lights up the end of the poem and displays Shelley’s optimism, despite the divorce, disfavour of his father-in-law and deaths of his sons.

The life of Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born on 4 August 1792 in Horsham, Sussex, England. He was the eldest of the seven children of Elizabeth Pilfold and Timothy Shelley, a country squire who would become baronet in 1815 on the death of his father. Young Percy attended Sion House Academy before entering University College, Oxford, in 1804. These years in a conventional institution were not happy ones for Shelley, where his idealism and controversial philosophies were developing. At this time he wrote such works as the Gothic “Zastrozzi”(1810) and “The Necessity of Atheism” (1811); “If the knowledge of a God is the most necessary, why is it not the most evident and the clearest?”

After Shelley’s expulsion from school for expressing his atheistic views, and now estranged from his father, he walked away with the sixteen-year old Harriet Westbrook (1795-1816) to Scotland. They married on 28 August 1811 and would have two children, daughter Ianthe born in 1813 and son Charles born in 1814. Inviting college friend Thomas Hogg into their household, Shelley attempted an open marriage to the consternation of Harriet, which led to the demise of their marriage. For the next three years Shelley made several trips to London to the bookshop and home of atheist journalist William Godwin, the father of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (1797-1851). Influenced by William Wordsworth, he continued to write poetry including “Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem” (1813) and participated in various political reform activities. He was also studying the writings of Godwin’s and embracing his radical philosophy.

Percy Shelley’s forays to the Godwin’s also resulted in his acquaintance with his daughter Mary, who almost immediately proved to be his intellectual equal. The poets’ fondness for each other soon grew and in 1814, Shelley eloped a second time with Mary and her stepsister Claire in tow, settling in Switzerland. This action drew the disapproval of both their fathers, and they struggled to support themselves. The Shelley’s were spending much time with Lord George Gordon Byron who also led a controversial life of romantic entanglements and political activity. Shelley was passionate about life and very generous to his friends, which often caused him financial hardship. They passed their days sailing on the lake and telling each other ghost stories. Mary overheard Percy and Byron speaking one night of galvanism, which inspired her most famous novel “Frankenstein” or “The Modern Prometheus” (1818) and which Percy wrote the introduction for.

In 1815 the Shelley’s moved back to England and settled near London. The same year Percy’s grandfather died leaving him a lucrative sum of £1000 per annum. The year 1816 was filled with highs and lows for Shelley. His wife Harriet drowned herself in the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London and Mary’s half sister Fanny committed suicide, but son William was born (d.1819) and he and Mary wed on 30 December. “Alastor or; The Spirit of Solitude” was published in 1816 and their joint effort based on their travels History of Six Weeks Tour was published in 1817.

In 1818, the Shelley’s moved to Italy and their son Percy Florence was born a year later. Advocates of vegetarianism, the Shelley’s wrote numerous articles about the subject. Percy was working on his tragedy in five acts The Cenci and many other works including “Men of England” and his elegy for John Keats “Adonais” (1821). Mary too was busy writing while they lived in various cities including Pisa and Rome. Shelley continued to venture on sailing trips on his schooner ‘Don Juan’. It sank on 8 July 1822 in a storm and Shelley drowned, at the age of twenty-nine. His body washed ashore and he was cremated on the beach near Viareggio. His ashes are buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome, Italy.

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The Shelley Memorial now stands at University College, Oxford, England, in honour of one of their most illustrious alumni. It features a white marble statue depicting Shelley as he appeared when washed ashore. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, having moved back to London with her son Percy Florence, devoted much of her time after her husband’s death to compiling and publishing his works. Her fondness and respect for her husband is expressed in her extensive notes and introductions to his works contained in The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe (1824).

Percy Bysshe Shelley. Source: http://thebsreport.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/percy_bysshe_shelley.jpgpercy.jpg

In the first quatrain of Shakespeare Sonnet 73, the speaker addresses a beloved, remarking that she may see that he is aging. He compares his body to a tree losing its leaves: “yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang.” His hair is thinning, and the few he has left are turning grey with age. The grey hair that once was brown is likened to yellow leaves that once were green.

And like the tree’s branches trembling in the cold breezes of winter coming on, his own limbs shiver more easily at the change of warm to cold weather. Even his poetry is becoming “are ruin’d choirs,” though it used to be filled with beautiful expression akin to the songs of sweet birds.

After comparing his elderly life to a tree in late autumn, in the second stanza he compares the aging process to a day, and he is in the “twilight of that day,” the time when the sun “fadeth in the west.” As the sun sinks lower, nighttime comes and brings sleep in the normal day’s activities.

But for this speaker who is approaching his last earthly days, night becomes “black night” which not only will extinguish his life, but also will “take away” “Death’s second self,” or sleep. He will not even be able to rest after black night has stolen his life.

In the third quatrain, the speaker again introduces a new metaphor: this time he compares his ebbing life to a fire that “on the ashes of his youth doth lie.” His youth once burned brightly, but now his flame is dwindling, and the very things that fed his youth’s flame are being consumed by the low-burning fire of old age.

Line 1 – ‘that time of year’ being late autumn or early winter.

Line 2 – Compare the line to Macbeth, “my way of life/is fall’n into the sere, the yellow leaf”.

Line 4 – ‘Bare ruin’d choirs’ is a reference to the remains of a church or, more specifically, a chancel, stripped of its roof and exposed to the elements. The choirs formerly rang with the sounds of ‘sweet birds’. Some argue that lines 3 and 4 should be read without pause — the ‘yellow leaves’ shake against the ‘cold/Bare ruin’d choirs’ . If we assume the adjective ‘cold’ modifies ‘Bare ruin’d choirs’, then the image becomes more concrete — those boughs are sweeping against the ruins of the church. Some editors, however, choose to insert ‘like’ into the opening of line 4, thus changing the passage to mean ‘the boughs of the yellow leaves shake against the cold like the jagged arches of the choir stand exposed to the cold’. Noted 18th-century scholar George Steevens commented that this image “was probably suggested to Shakespeare by our desolated monasteries. The resemblance between the vaulting of a Gothic isle [sic] and an avenue of trees whose upper branches meet and form an arch overhead, is too striking not to be acknowledged. When the roof of the one is shattered, and the boughs of the other leafless, the comparison becomes more solemn and picturesque”.

Line 7 – ‘black night’ is a metaphor for death itself. As ‘black night’ closes in around the remaining light of the day, so too does death close in around the poet.

Line 8 – ‘Death’s second self’ i.e. ‘black night’ or ‘sleep’. Macbeth refers to sleep as ‘The death of each day’s life’

Line 12 – ‘that’ i.e. the poet’s desires.

Line 13 – ‘This’ i.e. the demise of the poet’s youth and passion.

Line 14 – ‘To love that well ‘. The meaning of this phrase and of the concluding couplet has aroused much debate. Is the poet saying that the young man now understands that he will lose his own youth and passion, after listening to the lamentations in the three preceding quatrains? Or is the poet saying that the young man now is aware of the poet’s imminent demise, and this knowledge makes the young man’s love for the poet stronger because he might soon loose him? What must the young man give up before long — his youth or his friend? The answer could lie in the interpretation of both the young man’s and the poet’s character in other sonnets.

The life of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare (Born 26 April 1564 – died 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon”. His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of a acting company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later known as the King’s Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare’s private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.

Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including “Hamlet”, “King Lear”, and “Macbeth” considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.

Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. In 1623, two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare’s

Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare’s genius, and the Victorians worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called “bardolatry”. In the twentieth century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.

William Shakespeare. Source: http://www.departments.oxy.edu/library/geninfo/collections/special/bannedbooks/shakespeare.jpgShakespeare.jpg


Another poem about autumn is a poem by William Cullen Bryant, it calls ‘October’. After some research on the Internet we found this poem. We read the poem and we both thought that it was a nice poem, so we picked October to analyze it.

You can see that this is a poem because of the blank lines between the stanzas.

There are four stanza’s, three with four lines and the last stanza has 2 lines. Every line is beginning with a capital letter and the last words of every sentence have a certain rhyme pattern. The first three stanzas have a certain pattern, the first and last words rhyme. The pattern is ABBA ABBA ABBA AA. Bryant is talking about death and how what death will look like, He is talking about how we as persons arrive at heaven. In the sentence: ‘Might wear out life like thee’ he is talking to god and with ‘thee’ he means god. The subject of the poem ‘October’ is of course also about autumn but also about death, just like sonnet 73 by William Shakespeare and ‘Autumn: A Dirge’.

The life of William Cullen Bryant

William Cullen Bryant (November 3, 1794 – June 12, 1878) was an American poet and journalist. He was born in Cummington, Massachusetts, the second son of Peter Bryant, a prominent doctor. His ancestors on both sides came over in the Mayflower. Educated at Williams College he went on to study law at Worthington and Bridgewater, he was admitted to the bar in 1815.

Interested in poetry since childhood, his first published work was a book of verse, The Embargo (1808) and his first critically acclaimed work was the poem “Thanatopsis” (1817) which appeared in the North American Review. Writing in a English romantic style and celebrating the countryside of New England his work was well received. He also wrote “Lines To a Waterfowl” Among his best known poems are also The Rivulet, The West Wind, The Forest Hymn, The Fringed Gentian.

He worked as a lawyer in Northampton, Plainfield, and Great Barrington until 1825 when he married and moved to New York City and worked for the New York Review and then the New York Evening Post.At first an associate editor, he became editor in 1829 and remained in that post until his death, the driving force of a liberal and literate paper he was strongly anti-slavery.

Bryant was a lifelong political activist, initially as a proponent of the Free Soil Party, and later in life, as a founder of the Republican Party. He was a fervent supporter of Abraham Lincoln’s presidential bid in 1860. In his later years, Bryant focused on translating and analyzing Ancient Greek and Latin works, such as The Iliad and The Odyssey of Homer.Bryant died in 1878 of complications from an accidental fall.

Bryant’s muse is tender and graceful, pervaded by a contemplative melancholy, and a love of solitude and the silence of the woods. Though he was brought up to admire Pope, and in his early youth imitated him, he was one of the first American poets to throw off his influence. He had a high sense of duty, was a prominent and patriotic citizen, and enjoyed the esteem and even the reverence of his fellow-countrymen.


William Cullen Bryant. Source: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/23405/23405-h/images/image54.jpg


All good things come to an end and so does this report. We really enjoyed working on this project and there are a few conclusions we can draw after reading and comparing these poems. We also have found enough information to answer our questions: “Is ‘To Autumn’ praising autumn or is there more to the poem?” and “What have the four poems in common?”.

To start with the first question, there is definitely more to the poem than just praising the autumn season. In his poem John Keats describes the three stages of life: youth, adulthood and preceding death. He transforms this stages into seasons, namely: spring, summer and autumn. Although he had experienced a lot of grieve in his life, Keats portrays death as a natural process. He sees it as a part of nature. He wrote this poem in a period when he had to work hard for his money and he was obsessively in love with Fanny Brawne. He had to make a lot of money so he could marry the love of his life.

On to the next question, besides that all of the four poems are about autumn there are more similarities to distinguish. All poems are ending in a stage of death, except for the last poem. In “October”, William Cullen Bryant describes the end of the year and the beginning of the new year. According to his poem everyone is welcome to the new year. William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 73” shows us that death is something you can’t run for which means that we have to love before our time is over. In Shelleys poem “Autumn: A Dirge” death comes before life. This happening lightens up the end of the poem and displays Shellys optimism. Also nature is a returning feature in all poems. The subject aging is related to the poems from John Keats and William Shakespeare.


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