Discuss why the poem "To Autumn" is a Romantic poem.

"To Autumn" is a Romantic poem because it emphasizes an emotional response to an ordinary subject, autumn, and focuses on celebrating nature.

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In his preface to the groundbreaking volume of poetry Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth defines Romantic poetry as emerging from

the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

Romantic poetry put its emphasis on emotional response, especially on how nature or a particular...

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In his preface to the groundbreaking volume of poetry Lyrical Ballads, William Wordsworth defines Romantic poetry as emerging from

the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

Romantic poetry put its emphasis on emotional response, especially on how nature or a particular landscape can make us feel. Unlike the Augustan poetry that preceded it, it is not interested in writing about great people or great events from the classical world or creating clever, ironic, or universalist aphorisms about morality and life. Instead, its focus is on ordinary people or events as well as the specific and the earnest. It speaks primarily from the heart, not the head.

"To Autumn" fits these characteristics of Romantic poetry. It is lyrical, meaning its emphasis is on emotion. It celebrates nature—in this case, the bounty the earth produces during autumn. It expresses deep gratitude and wonder at the abundance that the fall season pours out on the simple cottager, who is

bless[ed]
With fruit the vines that round the
thatch-eves run.

The speaker also describes the season in slow, vivid language: autumn "swell[s] the gourd" and, personified, "watchest the last oozings" of the cider press. The speaker's mood then turns melancholic. In the last stanza, he acknowledges that most poets celebrate the beauties of spring, but he defends fall's different attributes: the "rosy hues" of the landscape, the "light wind," and the "gathering swallows," asking, plaintively,

Where are the songs of spring? Ay,
Where are they?

This opening line to the last stanza weaves in bittersweet acknowledgements that mortality hovers at the edges of fall's bounty. There is the "soft-dying day" and the gnats that make a "wailful" choir that "mourns." This complex look at the emotions an ordinary fall day evokes, with nature cast in a positive, if melancholic light, is quintessentially Romantic.

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Romanticism came about partly in reaction to the characteristics of the Age of Reason; therefore, Romanticism is much more focused on emotion than reason. Imagination is a big part of the genre, too, and Romanticism is most definitely partial to revering nature. Nature has the potential and power to heal, inspire, and even impart knowledge.

In that regard, nature is a very real and solid presence. It is not something that exists in the background. It is physical and something that can be interacted with in a relationship. For this reason, it is common for Romantic authors to personify nature, and Keats does that throughout this poem. He does this most notably during the poem's second stanza, where the speaker portrays nature as someone sitting around and relaxing on the granary floor. Keats goes on to show nature as someone taking a nap in a field or strolling across a brook.

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;
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Romantic poetry comes from late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century England and was meant to directly contradict Enlightenment ideas, which were gaining social traction. While the Enlightenment was about science and empiricism, Romanticism is meant to be about nature, emotion, and the interplay between the two. John Keats, despite his death only four years after the publication of his first poem, is considered a quintessential Romantic poet.

"To Autumn" specifically personifies and gives creative power to the season of autumn. It presents the season in all its beauty and creates feelings of personal connection with it. This is in line with typical Romantic themes, where imagination and beauty are of the utmost importance, in direct contrast to the "scientific" approaches of the Enlightenment.

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Romantic poetry often takes nature as its subject, as the Romantics felt that nature had great power to awaken us and restore us to a fuller sense of our own goodness. In this poem, Keats compares the seasons of autumn and spring, ultimately concluding that, though spring is beautiful, autumn has its "music too." Fall has a subtler, "soft[er]" kind of beauty than spring, a "rosy hue" rather than splashes of scarlet or violet or broad swaths of emerald. Keats fills the poem with images of abundance: how the vines are "load[ed] and bless[ed]" with fruit, how the great number of apples "bend[s]" the tree branches, the swollen "gourd" and "plump" hazelnuts, and honeycomb "o'er-brimm'd" with honey from all the bees' work. He encourages his reader to find the loveliness in a season that we might think of as presaging the darkness of winter. Instead of as a harbinger of the cold and dark, Keats wills us to think of autumn as a season of plenty, of reaping, and of calm. In taking the beauties of nature as his subject, and especially in discussing them in such an emotionally expressive way, Keats composes a poem well within Romantic tradition.

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In three stanzas, John Keats delivers lyrical encomium to autumn, a fine example of a Romantic poem in praise of the natural world.

In the first stanza, the speaker observes the relationship between the late summer sun and the bountiful earth—and how, working together, they offer abundant life and food.

In the second stanza autumn is personified, and in the first line of the stanza, a rhetorical question is posed: who hasn't seen and appreciated autumn in its full glory as the harvest comes upon the land?

The third and final stanza urges autumn to think not of spring, but to instead appreciate its own metaphoric music in the form of dying insects, grown lambs, and crickets and birds continuing their songs as the end of year approaches.

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