|photo taken locally by Donal Kearney ©
Autumn - such a beautiful season. And this poem by Keats is perhaps the season's most famous verse, a fitting ode indeed.
Don't let the language style put you off. Keats has a way of saying things beautifully, of painting images in each turn of phrase - if we only take the patience to read them attentively. 'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' is a line familiar to many. But what about 'While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day/And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;'? Yes, that's exactly what the sunset is like this time of year!
Keats allegedly wrote this poem after a Sunday afternoon walk in Autumn. Now it's hard not to think of it while walking in this season!
But for those of us who don't like this time of year, fear not - 'Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?Think not of them, thou hast thy music too.' Maybe if we listen closely enough, we'll hear Autumn's golden music, and it might just overpower those Spring memories. For in a way, it is a type of new beginning too.
Ode to Autumn - 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 mossed 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'erbrimmed 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-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed 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 oozings, 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 redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.