To Autumn Questions and Answers
by John Keats

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What are three examples of personification in the second stanza of "To Autumn" by John Keats?

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Three examples of personification in the second stanza of Keats' "To Autumn" are as follows:

In the first line, the speaker invokes autumn as an autonomous being by posing the question "Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?" This question humanizes autumn simply by referring to it as "you" and also implies the very human quality of ownership. The products of the season (flowers, cider, etc.) are autumn's "store," and thus autumn is personified through the concept of ownership.

In the fourth line, the speaker describes autumn as having "hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind." Attributing hair to a season is certainly personification, and here, Keats is particularly clever by depicting the wind as "winnowing." We picture both a breeze through a human head of hair, and the wind sifting through the wheat, separating it from the chaff.

Finally, in the eighth and ninth, lines the speaker portrays the stooped yet steadfast position of autumn's head as such:

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep / Steady thy laden head across a brook.

Not only do we picture autumn as having a head, we think of autumn's occupation, as a "gleaner" is the person who collects the remaining food after the reaper has harvested the field. These lines personify autumn as having a human body and a human trade.

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paysingm eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Personification is the literary device in which a non-human object or animal is represented as having human qualities. In “To Autumn” by John Keats, the second stanza constructs the idea that the very season of autumn itself has the human qualities of “sitting” (line 14), sleeping (demonstrated in line 16), and also gazing with a “patient look” (line 21). More interesting is the quality of idleness autumn seems to possess while it is “sitting careless on a granary floor” (line 14) and watching the “last oozings hours by hours” (line 22).  The season is revealed as a kind of day-dreamer, one that is often reposed in moments of stillness rather than active (as it appears in the first stanza). After the work of ripening and collecting the harvest of the first stanza, the season becomes pensive. This constructs the meaning that towards the end of autumn, after all the hard work of bringing in the harvest, there is a natural inclination to contemplate time and the transience of each moment and season. So the poem reveals the season of autumn as having the human quality of being able to contemplate the finitude of life and of one’s own being.

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