How is nature presented in "To Autumn" by John Keats?

In "To Autumn" by John Keats, nature is presented as beautiful and bounteous.

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Nature is presented as rich, full, indolent, and beautifully melancholic in this poem celebrating autumn.

Imagery in the first stanza shows autumn to be full and rich to the bursting point: the season conspires with the sun to produce a bounty that loads the apple trees until they are bent...

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Nature is presented as rich, full, indolent, and beautifully melancholic in this poem celebrating autumn.

Imagery in the first stanza shows autumn to be full and rich to the bursting point: the season conspires with the sun to produce a bounty that loads the apple trees until they are bent over with fruit. Autumn is also described as if it is pregnant and ready to give birth, so that it can

fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells....

The world overflows with bounty.

In stanza 2, the bounty of nature is described as indolent or lazy. It is "sitting careless... sound asleep." Rather than moving swiftly, this sleepy overload of nature's goodness drowses. The cider press is full of "oozings." It as if autumn has overeaten and now must slow down and drift into a nap.

In stanza 3, the focus turns to the sounds of autumn as evening falls. This is a melancholic time of "soft-dying day" and "rosy hues" as the sun sets, punctuated by the "wailful choir" of the mournful gnats and the bleating of the now-full-grown lambs. The speaker contrasts these sounds to spring's songs, and finds autumn's music compelling too: crickets sing and robins whistle, while swallows come together and "twitter" in the sky.

These sensual images drown and intoxicate us with their evocation of a slow-moving, heavy, melancholy nature weighted by its own abundance.

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Keats's poem is rich with concrete detail and imagery. In the first stanza, he dwells on the ripening fruit: “To bend with apples the moss’d cottage trees, / And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core." In the second stanza, autumn appears as a person “sitting careless on a granary floor, / Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind.”  The third stanza insists that autumn has charms that are the equal of spring, and concludes with sharply observed sensory details of the season, including the “barred clouds,” the “wailful choir“ of “small gnats,” the bleat of lambs, the singing of crickets.

This poem marks a departure of sorts for Keats, who in other odes (“Ode on a Grecian Urn” and “Ode to a Nightingale”) adopted a questioning or even argumentation stance toward the object of the poem. Here there is no “problem” for the poet to solve; instead, his purpose seems to render the transcendent reality of autumn, as he has experienced it, through his use of imagery. Nature, as expressed both in the fall harvest and in the activities of people and animals, is revealed in the poem to be benevolent and beautiful.

 

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In the poem, nature is presented as mankind's benefactor. The entire poem describes one of the four seasons that routinely visit the human experience: autumn. 

In the first stanza, autumn is pregnant with "mellow fruitfulness." The harvests in early autumn promise a delightful gastronomic experience. The "moss'd cottage-trees" are bent with the heavy weight of luscious apples. Autumn conspires with the "maturing sun" to bring to perfect ripeness the fruits of the season. In this stanza, autumn is unequivocally described as mankind's benefactor.

The same theme continues in the second stanza. Autumn is personified as an illustrious worker, one who threshes the field, gleans the fruits of nature, and works the cider press. In this stanza, nature is both provider and producer.

In the last stanza, autumn is said to have its own song, distinct from that of other seasons. Indeed, autumn reveals its beauty through its unique panoramic vitality. In the fall, the "wailful choir" of small gnats is heard next to the bleating of "full-grown lambs," the singing of hedge-crickets, the whistling of red robins, and the twittering of gathering swallows. In the poem, nature is presented as mankind's benefactor, one who impresses itself on each of our five senses.

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The poem observes the natural world in autumn by delineating a number of sights, sounds, and pastimes that place humans beings squarely in the season's midst. There is also a theme of nature's providing a bounty of food and drink for human consumption. The description of fruits on the trees and vines is related to descriptions of reaping, winnowing (grain) or pressing cider from apples: all activities are related to the production of food or drink. In this way, the poem celebrates the abundant gifts of nature, and the deep and vital connection humans have to the natural world; as the poem suggests, without these foods provided at harvest time, we would experience hunger and thirst. But the poem also hints at the sensual pleasures of these activities, and the ways in which autumn (and more specifically, nature in autumn) engages all of our senses, particularly with sounds and songs (as with the third stanza, referring to the "songs of spring" and the sounds of birds, lambs and insects). In crafting lines that immerse the reader into this complex realm of sensual pleasure, the poet creates many visual and aural points of reference that could possibly inform the reader's future thoughts of autumn, every year when it returns, making this observance an ingrained part of one's life experience, underscoring the centrality of nature to human existence.

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In the opening stanza of the poem, the poet describes how nature produces trees and branches that "bend with apples," and fill "all fruit with ripeness to the core." The implication here is that nature is bounteous and generously provides sweet, delicious fruit for people and animals to eat.

Later in the same stanza, the speaker describes "budding" flowers and "warm days," creating a rather idyllic image of the beauty that nature provides. The sensory language used in this stanza, describing sights, tastes, and temperatures, helps to create an immersive impression of nature as full and lively.

In the second stanza, the poet personifies nature, in the form of the eponymous autumn, as a beautiful woman, with "hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind." This image is peaceful and seductive. The woman is further described as rather lethargic. She is "sound asleep, / Drows'd with the fume of poppies." This image suggests that while nature may at times be beautiful and bounteous, it can also at other times be sleepy and lethargic, or, from a different perspective, peaceful and calm.

In the final stanza, the poet describes the beauty and innocence of nature. He describes the "rosy hue" of an autumnal sun, and he then describes the "full-grown lambs" who "bleat from hilly bourn." The lamb is often used in literature as a symbol of innocence and new life, so the poet is suggesting here that even in the autumn, nature is full of life. The poet also in this stanza describes how the "hedge-crickets sing" and how the "gathering swallows twitter in the skies." Altogether, these images emphasize the point that nature, in autumn, is still full of life, beauty, and innocence.

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