What figures of speech are used in John Keats' "To Autumn"?

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The figures of speech used in "To Autumn" by Joh Keats include personification, imagery, metaphor, and simile. Autumn and then elements associated with it are given human qualities, and rich comparisons conjure up vivid images. Keats also employs apostrophe, directly addressing the season of Autumn as though it could hear him and respond to him.

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Personification is a major literary feature of "To Autumn." Personification is a literary device in which non-human subjects are given human traits. Here, personification makes the description of the natural world more vivid in the mind of the reader. For instance, the sun and the season of autumn cannot literally "Conspir[e]" to bring about the harvest or "bless" the vines to yield bountiful fruit, but by personifying them as benevolent entities, Keats is describing the richness of harvest time in a way that a more straightforward description could never achieve.

Keats takes his personification of autumn further in the last third of the poem. The speaker invites an open comparison with springtime, a season more celebrated as a time of joy and new life. But the speaker insists that autumn "hast thy music too"—that is, autumn has its own beauty which poets often elect ignore. The speaker goes on to describe autumn's music in the singing of crickets (yet another case of personification, as crickets do not literally sing), the twittering of swallows, and the bleating of lambs in the hills. All of this creates a specific picture of autumn as an underdog figure with its own unappreciated charms. By presenting autumn this way, Keats is calling the reader to appreciate the beauty of autumn and to rethink any negative conceptions they might have of this season in comparison to milder and more pleasant times of the year.

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From the start of "Autumn," Keats personifies both the season of Autumn and the sun, depicting them as "bosom-friend[s]" that "Conspir[e]" together about "how to load and bless" the vines and trees with ripe and heavy fruit. Likewise, bees are personified as well, given the human ability to think that "warm days will never cease," because their hives are overflowing with honey made from all the flowers.

Keats also employs apostrophe, speaking directly to the season of Autumn, as if it could hear him and respond. In the second stanza, the speaker directly addresses the season, asking it a question and referring to it by using the second-person "thee." At the end of the second stanza, the speaker uses a simile, comparing the season to "a gleaner," a worker who would pick any grain in the fields that was missed by the initial threshing process. He also compares, via metaphor, the last of hours of the summer sun to something that could "ooz[e]" or move very slowly, perhaps like honey. The personification of the season continues throughout this stanza as well, as it is given "hair," the ability to sleep, the ability to have a "patient look," and so on.

In the final stanza, the speaker compares the beauty of the seasons of spring and fall to "songs," via metaphor, suggesting that each has its own type of beauty, like different styles of music. Clouds are metaphorically compared to flowers with their ability to "bloom" in a "rosy hue," and the wind is personified as being able to "live or die."

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A figure of speech occurs when a word or groups of words have a resonance beyond their literal meaning. Keats, for example, uses the ubi sunt or "where are they" figure of speech when he asks, in the third stanza, "Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?" This is not question meant to be answered in a literal way, but a form of lament for days gone by in which the poet ponders death and the passage of time.

The poem abounds in images. Autumn is likened in the first stanza to something pregnant giving birth to abundance: gourds "swell" and the hazel-nuts "plump" or grow full. The cottage trees are so full they "bend with ripeness" and all the fruits experience "ripeness to the core." Nature is fecund, maturing, and delivering its bounty.

Autumn's nature is so fecund it is sleepy from its overabundance, as a person might be who has eaten too much. Autumn is personified as "sound asleep" and "drowsed."

Not only autumn, but various creatures and machines in it are personified: the bees "think" as humans might that "warm days will never cease," whereas the "cyder press," like a human, "watchest the last oozings" as the apples are pressed into juice, and the gnats "mourn" in a "wailful choir."

Keats uses words that conjure slowness to evoke the slowing down that autumn represents to him: the "clammy cells" of the bees make us think of thick, slow-moving honey and "oozings hour by hour" conjure the slow pressing of the apples by the cyder press.

Keats also uses alliteration in the pile-up of "s" sounds: "cease," "summer" and "cells," "seen," "sometimes," "seeks," "sitting," "soft," "sound," and "swath," all of which lend a sleepy cadence to the poem.

All in all, the sounds and images in the poem reinforce the idea of autumn as a sleepy time of slowing down as nature's bounty comes to fruition.

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Keats's "To Autumn" uses many literary devices, but several stand out as contributing majorly to the structure of the poem.  The first of these literary devices is apostrophe.  Apostrophe is when the speaker of a poem addresses, or speaks to, something that can't speak back.  In this poem, Keats's speaker is addressing autumn when he asks, "Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?" (line 12).

Another literary device that Keats uses in this poem is personification.  Just as he speaks to autumn, he also personifies (or describes something as if it were a person) autumn as a worker in a granary, sleeping on the floor because of the heavy drowsiness that Keats associates with the season in the first stanza.

A final literary device, and perhaps the most pervasive in the poem, is imagery.  Keats employs visual imagery in the first stanza, in which he describes the "swell[ed]" gourd and the "plump...hazel shells" (7).  In the third stanza, the imagery becomes auditory, as Keats describes the "music" of autumn (23), such as the "twitter[ing]" swallows and the "wailful choir" of gnats (33, 27).

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What are the figures of speech and metaphors used in "To Autumn" by John Keats?

We can help you get started on this. The poem is about the season, autumn, so to find metaphors and other figures of speech, look at each line to find how the poet describes the season. What do you think about when you think of autumn? Leaves changing colors, a crisp coolness to the air, approaching holiday season? Keats writes about the images he associates with autumn in the same way:

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun

In autumn, the air is "misty" and the fruits are ripe. This is a metaphor. In the second line, there is personification, stating that the season of autumn is a "friend" to the sun. The image here is that the sun is high in the sky, causing the fruit to ripen, so the sun and autumn are "friends" working together to ripen the fruit. These images are continued in the following lines. Can you find some other figures of speech in them in this first stanza?

Look at the second stanza. There is quite a bit of personification in this stanza. Doesn't it seem as if the poet is talking about a person? But no, it is still the season he is describing.

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;

If you go through the poem in this way, you will find other figures of speech, such as similes:

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

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

Similes are comparisons using "like" or "as." This makes them easy to locate in a work of literature, because in the absence of the words "like" and "as," there is no simile. However, not every use of "like" or "as" is comparative, so once we locate these words, we have to evaluate how they are being employed in order to determine if we are in the arena of a simile. To be like Sherlock Holmes (that's a simile), let's go through this poem analytically. Since it contains one use of the word "like" and one of "as," there are at most two possible similes in the poem. The first is the following:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook
"Like a gleaner" is the first potential simile. In this case, it truly is a simile, or comparison. Autumn is likened to a gleaner, a person who gathers the fruit or grain left behind by the harvesters. The second possible simile is "sinking as the light wind." Is Keats comparing the "small gnats" to a light wind? Here, the answer is no. "As" can also mean "according to" or "because." In this case, Keats is using imagery, saying the the swarm of gnats (which he calls a "choir,") sinks or rises as the wind grows stronger or dies down:
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies
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What similes are used in the poem "To Autumn" by John Keats?

John Keats' "To Autumn" is full of rich figurative language, and similes are certainly included (as a reminder, similes are comparisons that use "like" or "as"). In fact, one of my favorite literary similes occurs in the second stanza of Keats' poem: "And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep / Steady thy laden head across a brook" (19-20). This is a particularly virtuosic example of a simile, as it also includes some elements of personification. Keats compares the season of autumn to a "gleaner," someone who collected any leftover food from a field after the reaper finished his harvest. As such, while this example of figurative language is certainly a simile, it also employs some personification, as Keats is giving autumn human qualities. This example is just one of the masterful ways that Keats uses figurative language to describe the season of autumn, and I'd encourage you to read the piece for yourself to look for the other inventive ways Keats brings autumn to life. 

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