October 12, 2011

"To Autumn" by John Keats

I've written recently about my fondness for October. I've written, too, about the power of music, and the effect it has on our health. I have friends who'd say that poetry has powers similar to those of music. The short work below offers poetry, music, and a beautiful appreciation for this magical time of year.

John Keats was only 23 years old when he wrote this poem. About 17 months later, he died. I wonder what he might have created if he'd lived a longer life.

The sketch above of the handsome young poet was completed by Charles Brown in August, 1819 -- just a month before Keats wrote the glorious ode that follows.

by John Keats
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
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; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozing, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

For more information about Keats and this poem, check:


Suzie Grogan said...

As a writer, a lover of Keats and as someone who grew up with a father with early onset Parkinsons I can empathise with much of what you say. Hope you can continue writing and enjoying a good quality of life for many years to come

John said...

Thanks.  Writing this blog has added to the already good quality of my life.