Ode to Autumn Critical Analysis, a romantic poem by John Keats
Keats, a wonderful romantic, personifies Autumn in conveying the message that the beauty of autumn is ought to be enjoyed though it be transitory and short lived. Keats sees autumn separate from winter, a season of fog associated with sadness and sorrow.
The poet appears to profess the need to enjoy the beauty though it be for present hour, though it may soon be followed with greater grief, winter. The description of the landscape is perfect. The poet has used extensive imagery to create the sensual experience even more enrapturing. Actually, Keats was impressed by the beautiful imagery of the autumn period which inspired him to write this poem. The poem begins with the concrete images of autumn and ends on the images of approaching winter.
In autumn, fruits are ripe. There are mists. The sun and autumn appear "close bosom friend" because they conspired for the ripeness of the fruits of all kinds. The sensual imagery of trees bent with the load of apples is very appealing. The ground has swollen with several plants and shrubs while hazel nuts are pulpy now. After visual imagery, the poet imagines that soon there will be flowers and bees shall visit them for collecting nectar. The bees, or perhaps the poet, may believe that the blessed "warm days will never cease" though it winter is looming. It seems as if the role of autumn is "to load", "to bend", "to swell" and "to set" the process of nature.
"Who hath not seen thee often mid thy store" is the emotional reaction of the poet. For Keats autumn is always there working on the ripening of the fruits. Autumn is in the fields, on the "granary floor" and on a "half reaped furrow". Since the poet has personified autumn, hence, we may even see her as a harvester working in the fields, storing the harvest and oozing at some half reaped furrow. We may clearly sight a halt in the activity of autumn. However, it is quite evident that after the harvest it is the time for entry of winter while autumn must leave. "Sound asleep" and "the last oozing hours" suggest awakening of winter, a change or perhaps end if seen at deeper and symbolical levels.
For a moment the poet is anxious for "where are the songs of spring" but recovers and realizes that the beauty of autumn is enjoyable and it has its charms too. He rejects the idea of spring: "think not of them" for autumn has its "music too". We may see the longing of the poet in several layers of meanings. First of all, he might be relating the beauties of spring to that of autumn. He finds autumn beautiful like spring is. However, it may also be seen as the poet is well aware that autumn is dying or is in the process of change with "soft dying day". It will soon be followed by winter. The longing for avoiding the dark and gloomy winter is urging the poet to lament the loss of spring though he feels the beauty of present hour i.e. autumn must be enjoyed.