Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ode Poem:"To Autumn"

"To Autumn"
-John Keats
Can be read here

John Keats' ode "To Autumn" is an ornate and precise depiction of the season and its role in the natural life cycle. Keats begins his poem by addressing Autumn and describing its abundance in relation with the sun. He talks about Autumn as a time of birth and enrichment. Mentioning the ripening of fruit and the bloom of late flowers, Keats makes a very distinct connection between Autumn and the sun. This almost seems paradoxical as Autumn is generally referred as a time of death, with the changing of leaves. Autumn is here being discussed as the beginning of life whereas it is generally associated with the advent of death.
In the second stanza Keats gives Autumn a personified identity, a goddess. He delineates her sleeping in the fields along with her recumbency  on "a granary floor". This stanza seems to give an interpretation of almost idleness to Autumn in contrast with the active liveliness of the first stanza. The first stanza of the ode, known as the strophe, is preformed with a choir moving right to left on a stage, similar to the way the sun rises. While the second stanza, the antistrophe, is meant to reply to the strophe and balance it. This is seen quite vividly in "To Autumn". as the choir preforms the antistrophe they move back to the right, signaling the descent of the sun into the night, hence the almost ominous tranquility of this stanza.
The third stanza, the epode, is projected with the choir standing still. Thus in this poem the sun, or Autumn, can be inferred as descended. Here there is a very thick comparison between Autumn and death. This is clearly depicted from the wailful mourning of Keats' gnats. This section of the poem is connected strongly to the antistrophe in that there is a "sinking" mentioned that corresponds with the descending sun of the antistrophe.
Throughout the poem it seems more that Autumn is not a part of the natural life cycle, but in fact a cycle in itself, moving from the bloom and birth of late flowers to the cold departure of the soft-dying day.

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