To Autumn Questions and Answers
by John Keats

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Discuss how, on its surface, the ode "To Autumn" seems to be little more than description, an illustration of a season. But underneath its descriptive surface, "To Autumn" is one of the most thematically rich of all odes. How does Keats manage to embody complex themes in such an apparently simple poem?

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Keats both celebrates and mourns the bounty and rich beauty of fall. He describes the beauty of the season through the apples bending the trees' boughs with their weight, the gourds swelling, and the many fruits brimming with ripeness. The granary floor is filled with the harvest, and cider mills ooze from turning apples into rich cider.

Nevertheless, the poem also contains language of melancholy. Nature is at its height, but this fact means that the decline of winter, symbolic of death, is soon coming. In the third stanza, the speaker asks, "Where are the songs of spring?" He realizes then, thou, that autumn's music is just as important. We are reminded that spring is far away, winter is coming, and time keeps passing by. Autumn too will pass as spring has. Such language as "wailful" and "mourn" points to the bittersweetness of life, for all things are transitory, and we all will die. Even the gnats intuit that. Therefore, we both seize and enjoy the beauty of the moment but at the same...

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