Go to Knowledge4Africa.com

John Keats

Ode to Autumn

Stanza 1:
Easier questions to cut your teeth on!

Keith Tankard
Updated: 18 January 2014
Contact the English4Africa Subject Coordinator

It is with great sadness that we have to announce that the creator of Knowledge4Africa, Dr T., has passed away. Helping people through his website gave him no end of pleasure. If you had contact with him and would like to leave a message, please send us an e-mail here.


"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.


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 young.

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)

[Need help?]

  • What is the effect of the alliterated "m" in "mists and mellow"? (2)

[Need help?]

"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)

[Need help?]

"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)

[Need help?]

  • 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)

[Need help?]

"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 cease? (2)

[Need help?]

  • What are the "clammy cells" that have been "o'erbrimm'd"? (2)

[Need help?]

  • What is the purpose of parenthesis? Identify an example of parenthesis in the above quotation. (4)

[Need help?]

The poet often uses inverse word order. Restructure the following quotes so that their meaning becomes more clear:
  • "How to load and bless with fruit the vines"; (2)

[Need help?]

  • "To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees"; (2)

[Need help?]

Try another worksheet?

See also:
This document is copyrighted. No part of it may be reproduced in any form whatever without explicit permission in writing from the author. The sole exception is for educational institutions which may wish to reproduce it as a handout for their students.

Contact the English4Africa Subject Coordinator