"To Autumn" is regarded as Keats's best poem, written with graphic clarity just before his death.
He personifies the season, dressed in its rich autumn colours and alive with life and mellow vibrancy.
Everything is maturing now.
The fruits on the trees are at their sweetest, the wine is oozing with heady tranquillity. Everywhere the
birds and the insects are enriching the countryside with their melody.
ABOUT THE POET
John Keats was born in London in 1795, the son of a hostler. Both his parents died while he was still
young -- his mother of tuberculosis. He was thereafter brought up by his grandmother who quickly made
him an apprentice physician.
He was still only in his late teens when he discovered that he too had caught TB and his younger brother
who was in his care soon died of it. In order to escape the disease, Keats moved to the sunnier and drier
climate of Italy.
There was no escape for him, however, and the poet died in 1821. He was then just 25 years of age. He
nevertheless bequeathed us a gargantuan amount of poetry written with an amazing maturity for one so
Keats wrote this Ode one autumn evening in 1819. It has been said that he could not focus on his writing
because somebody nearby was disturbing his thoughts by practising on the violin. The poet went out for
a walk and, inspired by the autumn atmosphere, returned to write this poem.
Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:
"SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun."
- What is a "bosom-friend"? (2)
- What is the effect of the alliterated "m" in "mists and mellow"? (2)
"Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run."
- Is the term "load and bless" a prayer? If so, who is praying to whom? (4)
"To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel."
- What does the description of the "moss'd cottage-trees" tell you about the general climate of
the region? (2)
- The poet conjures up in these four lines a feeling of success and prosperity. How does he do it? What
words in particular enrich this concept? (4)
"to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells."
- Who is being referred to when the poet speaks of "they" who think the warm days will never
- What are the "clammy cells" that have been "o'erbrimm'd"? (2)
- What is the purpose of parenthesis? Identify an example of parenthesis in the above
The poet often uses inverse word order. Restructure the following quotes so that their meaning becomes
- "How to load and bless with fruit the vines"; (2)
- "To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees"; (2)