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In “To Autumn,” how is autumn personified, or given human attributes, in each of...

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sharonkwicox | Honors

Posted April 21, 2012 at 8:24 PM via web

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In “To Autumn,” how is autumn personified, or given human attributes, in each of the stanzas?

 

 

 

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted April 22, 2012 at 2:21 PM (Answer #1)

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In the poem "To Autumn," the season of autumn is personified in various ways. First, the autumn is personified as a close friend of the sun. In fact, the autumn and the sun are "close bosom" friends:

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-eves run; 

No doubt, the autumn and the sun are "close bosom" friends. This is a cherished friendship. It is compared to a bosom friend which is a friend you would hold close to your bosom. Autumn is personified as one "conspiring" with the sun to yield a rich, ripened harvest:

Autumn is personified as a woman whose union with the male sun sets the ripening process in motion: “Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;/ Conspiring with him how to load and bless/ With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run.”

In the next stanza, autumn is personified as someone "sitting careless on a granary floor." The granary floor represents the place where the grain harvest is stored: 

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, 

The personification in this stanza is that the autumn is "sitting careless" in a place where the grain is stored. Also, the autumn is personified as having hair that is "soft-lifted by the winnowing wind." This is a beautiful personification in that the grains can be seen as hair wisped about by the "winnowing wind" or sifting wind. The autumn is also personified as being "sound asleep." Truly, the autumn is represented as having human qualities:

In the second stanza, the ripening process is fulfilled. Autumn, directly addressed as “thou” in line 12, is seen amid her harvested grain or found sleeping on a “half-reap’d furrow,” deceived by the late-blooming poppies that lured the bees in the first stanza to the same deception. 

In the last stanza, the autumn is personified as having her own music. When the speaker asks where are the songs of spring, the speaker then comforts the autumn, assuring her that she has her own music:

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, 

Also, the day is dying. This is a personification that relates the dying day to a human quality which is interpreted as death. As the day is dying, it has become the season of autumn. Autumn is personified as having a music all its own in the dying day. The speaker tells the autumn not to think on the songs of spring, not when she has a music all her own:

Keats, alluding to spring, admonishes autumn to appreciate her own sounds and her own beauty, exquisitely evoked by the late autumn sun setting on the harvested fields: “While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,/ And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue.” 

 

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