What are the devices used in "To Autumn " by John Keats?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A characteristic of Keats is his amazing ability to develop an idea to its extreme with great intellectual flexibility, and his "To Autumn" in its form and content is evidence of this ability. In his beautiful lyric poem Keats employs the following:

  • The ode form

First of all, this poem is an ode, a long, formal lyric poem with a serious theme and the traditional stanza structure of four lines with the rhyme scheme of abab and the remaining seven of cdecdde.

  • Personification

The most salient literary device in Keats's beautiful ode is personification. calling the season of Autumn "thee" and "close bosom friend of the maturing sun." Summer, too, is personified in the final line of the first stanza, "For Summer has o'er brimmed their clammy cells." And, both Summer and Autumn "conspire."

  • Apostrophe

The poet calls upon something that is not human--autumn--and directly addresses it:  "Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?"

"Where are the songs of Spring?" is also an example of apostrophe, as in a sense the poet evokes these melodies.

  • Imagery

Keats employs much language that appeals to all the senses. For instance, there is visual imagery in the first stanza with such words as "thatch-eyed," "mossed cottage trees," "plump the hazel shells,"  "flowers for the bees," "the granary floor," "full-grown lambs," and "crickets." Further, there is olfactory imagery with the smells of "sweet kernel,"and the "fume of poppies." Tactile imagery appears with "clammy cells,"winnowing wind"; aural imagery with "Music,""wailful choir," "treble soft," and "twitter."

Truly, "To Autumn" is a pleasurable ode to read because it delights the senses with its rich imagery and lyrical rhymes.  Certainly, this ode is a tribute to the great talent and sensitivity of John Keats