To Autumn Questions and Answers
by John Keats

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How does John Keats personify autumn in the poem "To Autumn?"

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Personification is the attribution of human characteristics to non-human objects. In his poem "To Autumn," English poet John Keats employed the literary device of personification to the autumnal season, as well as to other non-human objects, such as insects.
Right from the start of his poem, in the opening stanza, Keats suggests that the natural phenomena associated with the transition from summer to fall to assumes human characteristics, such as the forming of close relationships:
 
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless . . . 
Conspiring is defined as working together; literally, to conspire is “to breathe together” (Oxford English Dictionary). The use of the phrase "close bosom-friend" is clearly an example of personification, as the defining characteristics of the season in question do not actually exist in a human-like relationship with the nearest star. Similarly, in the following passage from the second stanza, Keats again attributes to nature human characteristics, such as in the notion that a season can sit on the floor, or that it has hair:
 
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; 
Finally, in the third and final stanza, "small gnats mourn" and "hedge-crickets sing," suggesting that insects possess human emotions and abilities, while the wind "lives or dies." Keats employs personification throughout "To Autumn." His ode to the transitional season bridging the heat of summer with the cold and desolation of winter is presented entirely in human terms.
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The personification of autumn begins immediately in the first stanza. Autumn and the sun are compared to a pair of people whispering secrets to each other.  

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; 
The two people are said to be close friends, and they conspire with each other about various plans. I picture a couple of my junior-high students whispering to each other in the back of the classroom.  
 
In the second stanza, the personification continues. This time, autumn is sitting on the granary floor and has hair that is blowing in the wind. 
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find 
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, 
   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 
Later in the same stanza, autumn is given a few various jobs. Autumn is a common laborer taking a nap alongside the harvest, and then a few lines later autumn is called a "gleaner." A gleaner is someone who gathers the remaining food after the reaper has gone through.  
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