"To Autumn" by John Keats

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In “To Autumn,” John Keats uses visual, auditory, olfactory, and gustatory imagery of the transition from autumn to winter to symbolize the cycle of life, starting with the jubilant period of birth and ending with the somber stillness of death. In the first stanza, Keats uses the images of ripening fruit and blooming flowers to show pregnancy and the creation of life. In the second stanza, Keats skips to the harvest of these fruits, demonstrating with the reaper and the granary store the lethargy of old age and the lurking threat of death. In the final stanza, Keats portrays death and the subsequent promise of new life once more. In the first stanza, the poem opens by portraying the warm days of early autumn in their finest, representing a mother’s pregnancy and the birth of a new life. Newly-born autumn and the “maturing” sun are personified as “conspiring… how to load and bless / With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run” (3-4), closely associating young autumn with the aging sunlight while alluding to the Christian belief that the father God, through his son Jesus, blesses those who take the path of the righteous with the “fruits” of joy and peace. It is curious that Keats would use the word “conspire” with such positive intentions on part of autumn and the sun, suggesting a sort of kind-spirited wittiness that is common among the nymphs and mythical creatures of Greek and Roman lore. Keats goes on to write that autumn and the sun “bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees” (5); one would not expect something as short and stumpy as an orchard tree to grow something as rich as apples, providing an implied sense of irony and an appreciation that life “knows no bounds,” as one would put it. Keats expands this idea of growth being a merciful bounty by using the olfactory and gustatory imagery of providing “flowers for the bees” (9) and “fill[ing] all
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