To Autumn Questions and Answers
by John Keats

Start Your Free Trial

Ode To Autumn Critical Appreciation

Write the critical appreciation of the poem "To Autumn" by John Keats.

Expert Answers info

Jason Lulos eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write3,306 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Science

"To Autumn" has a relatively intricate rhyme scheme of abab cdedccee in the first stanza and the 2nd and third stanzas are abab cdecdde. The ode describes autumn and in the second and third stanzas, the poet speaks directly to a personified autumn, a technique called apostrophe. It may be that the rhyme scheme changes a bit in the second stanza to accompany the shift from description to a direct address. 

In the first stanza, Keats emphasizes the sights and smells of early autumn. These lines are bursting with life and movement, the ripening process itself, literally coming to life. Autumn is compared to a woman in union with a male sun (perhaps a pun on son), their interaction a kind of procreation, making life all around them. During early autumn, farmers are still collecting the harvest, the fruits of labor and the result of life which was planted in the spring. The stanza ends with those fruits personified as well, thinking their "warm days will never cease." 

In the second stanza, the poet talks directly to autumn and imagines her (autumn) patiently witnessing the end of ripening and the completion of the harvest. 

In the final stanza, the poet laments the absence of spring's sounds, but tells autumn that her music is beautiful too. This stanza emphasizes the sounds of late autumn which foretell the coming winter. The swallows gather for their migration. Their twittering is like a church bell marking the close of the day. The stanzas are also arranged within the structure of a day: morning midday and evening. And they are arranged in the structure of a life: conception/birth, growth and death. 

Winter, the end of autumn, is symbolic of death. Despite the morbid sense of this symbolism, the poet accepts the end as it is a natural part of life. In many of Keats' poems, he illustrates how joy and sadness exist together. Being aware of death, one's own mortality, is key to appreciating life. Being conscious of the fact that life is fleeting (that winter/death will come) should lead one to not take it for granted. 

check Approved by eNotes Editorial