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To Autumn -- a Poetry Friday post

Good morning, and welcome to this week's home for Poetry Friday. As regular readers here know, every Friday is Poetry Friday here at Writing and Ruminating.

Today, I'm feeling some John Keats; specifically, his Ode "To Autumn", which features three stanzas of eleven lines each. All three have the same rhyme scheme for the first seven lines (ABABCDE), but stanza one (DCCE) ends a wee bit differently than two and three (CDDE). Such is the malleability of the Ode. What makes this poem special is not, however, the rhyme scheme; it is Keats's use of language and imagery, beginning with his decision to address the poem to Autumn itself, and to speak about it as a living, present thing.

This poem is lovely as is, but reading it aloud will give you further appreciation for the images and the sounds within it. I wish I could find Alan Rickman reading it, because his voice can turn me into a pile of mushy goo (don't believe me? Have a listen as he reads Shakespeare's Sonnet 130. But I digress.) If you feel funny reading this aloud to yourself, then you can listen to Nicholas Shaw read it for the BBC.

To Autumn
by John Keats


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
  Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
  With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
  And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
  And still more, later flowers for the bees,
  Until they think warm days will never cease,
    For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cells.


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;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
  Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
    Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
  Steady thy laden head across a brook;
  Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
    Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


Where are the songs of Spring? Aye, where are they?
  Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
  And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
  Among the river sallows, borne aloft
    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
  Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
  The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

How much do I love some of his descriptions here? So very much that I'm thinking hyphenations should be used far more in everyday life. The evocativeness of "the mossed cottage-trees" alone is enough to stop me in my tracks. The entire second stanza is staggeringly gorgeous, speaking of the autumn hay. "[O]n a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,/Drowsed with the fume of poppies . . ." is better imagery and poetry than many can muster in the whole of their poems, and it's only part of one sentence here (and a fragment, at that).

Keats wrote the poem after spending some time out of doors on a fine autumn day. How do I know? Well, he wrote to a friend of his named Reynolds, and said so: "How beautiful the season is now—How fine the air. A temperate sharpness about it. Really, without joking, chaste weather—Dian skies—I never lik'd stubble fields so much as now—Aye better than the chilly green of the spring. Somehow a stubble plain looks warm—in the same way that some pictures look warm—this struck me so much in my Sunday's walk that I composed upon it."

I believe that today, I'll take a walk and see what autumn has to offer. I sha'n't be gone long.—You come too.*

If you've got a poem you'd like to share today, please put your name and info into Mr. Linky here, so everyone can find you until I get around to a round up post later in the day:

Comments are welcome as well.

And one more thing: Don't forget to check out the featured snowflakes for the Robert's Snow auction, which you can find listed at Seven Imp (or by clicking the pretty picture to your left - it's a button!)

*Yes, that last italicized bit was Robert Frost, from one of my favorites of his poems, "The Pasture". You can read the full text of that poem in a prior post. Well-spotted, if you already knew that.

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( 57 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 19th, 2007 03:28 am (UTC)
Sam: I'm in with a video (and more poems) from two recent Qwikpick Instant Poetry Contests for kids.
Oct. 19th, 2007 11:23 am (UTC)
Re: Poetry friday
For those interested in doing school visits, watching just the one minute of footage that Sam posted from one of his visits will give you plenty of ideas of what to do right - energy, energy, energy + getting the kids involved=magic.
Oct. 19th, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven"
Thanks for hosting Kelly. I'm in with the Halloween classic "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe. I'm also conducting a survey to find out how scary people actually think it is!

John Mutford
Oct. 19th, 2007 11:01 am (UTC)
Re: Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven"
I'd have to say that I don't find it scary, per se, but I find it to be eerie/creepy, which is why I like it—and that plus Poe's repetition within the poem that keep it a perennial crowd favorite!
Oct. 19th, 2007 09:51 am (UTC)
My submission is here: http://mentortexts.blogspot.com/2007/10/headache.html.

Thank you for hosting today!
Oct. 19th, 2007 11:37 am (UTC)
Re: Thanks
Lingering headaches are the worst.
Oct. 19th, 2007 09:59 am (UTC)
This is truly lush and lovely. It makes me want to sigh and wander off into a field instead of being holed up in a library today. We've had such warm, humid weather too - it's unreal. I love that Robert Frost poem.

I have a short little poem by Gunilla Norris about harvesting and berries (with an invitation) too so I feel like I'm on your theme!
Oct. 19th, 2007 10:01 am (UTC)
That was cloudscome commenting without signing in, as usual. :)
Oct. 19th, 2007 11:04 am (UTC)
Oddly enough, I was guessing it was you from your comments on Keats. We've been having a burst of heat and humidity, too, and I'm very much looking forward to it breaking this weekend.
Oct. 19th, 2007 10:07 am (UTC)
When I saw the line about hair washing I thought, "This is one I have to submit!"
I'm in with a poem (http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/a-poem-about-writing-on-this-rainy-poetry-friday/) by Harryette Mullen.

Have a super day Kelly!

--Stacey from Two Writing Teachers
Oct. 19th, 2007 11:06 am (UTC)
Re: When I saw the line about hair washing I thought, "This is one I have to submit!"
My computer broke, so I can't process words. It was very good.
Oct. 19th, 2007 10:08 am (UTC)
Keats has made his poem so heavy with juicy images that it nearly puts me into a trance and makes me feel the drowsy fullness of Autumn. And the recording! Thanks for that.

I'm in for Poetry Friday with an original poem, Credo.

Sara Lewis Holmes
Oct. 19th, 2007 11:12 am (UTC)
Credo: I don't believe I've read a better original poem by someone I "know" in a very long time.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Oct. 19th, 2007 07:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 19th, 2007 10:50 am (UTC)
Poetry friday
Hi Kelly,
Thanks for rounding us up today. I'm in with some bird poems.
Oct. 19th, 2007 11:38 am (UTC)
Re: Poetry friday
Your poems are about birds, but not for the birds!
Oct. 19th, 2007 12:04 pm (UTC)
Hi Kelly!

Thanks for hosting and for that lovely Keats ode. My thoughts are also in England today, with a poem by Laurie Lee.
Oct. 19th, 2007 12:30 pm (UTC)
The way you phrased that second sentence made me laugh. My understanding is that advice to some British wives were told to "close their eyes and think of England" during marital relations. My brain works in mysterious ways, but there 'tis.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 19th, 2007 01:39 pm (UTC)
Yeah - my walking plans are on temporary hold because it's oppressively humid here, with imminent threat of rain (and severe winds).
Oct. 19th, 2007 12:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks for hosting and for the Keats. I have a friend, guest'ing today with some Bill Brown.

Jules, 7-Imp
Oct. 19th, 2007 01:40 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you have a guest - with all you've been doing at your blog, for Robert's Snow and at ForeWord, I'm stunned you're still up and moving!
Oct. 19th, 2007 12:58 pm (UTC)
Poetry Friday
Elaine M. of Wild Rose Reader

Today I have brief reviews of two children's poetry books with poems great for sharing at Halloween--and a witch poem I wrote many years ago.
Oct. 19th, 2007 01:04 pm (UTC)
Poetry Friday
Elaine M. of Blue Rose Girls

I've posted Ron Koertge's poem "Do You Have Any Advice for Those of Us Just Starting Out?" and the rough draft of a poem I wrote on the same subject.
Oct. 22nd, 2007 07:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Poetry Friday
I LOVED this poem, and post, Elaine!
Oct. 19th, 2007 01:05 pm (UTC)
Poetry Friday at Chicken Spaghetti
hey, Kelly. I am in with a post about a teen poetry workshop with Helen Frost, which is sponsored by NYC's Poets House and the New York Public Library.


Thanks for rounding up!

Chicken Spaghetti
Oct. 19th, 2007 02:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Poetry Friday at Chicken Spaghetti
I keep reading this as a "teeny" poetry workshop. Silly me!
Oct. 19th, 2007 01:51 pm (UTC)
Karen Edmisten said:
I'm in with an original poem about the vicissitudes of everyday life. Specifically, my beloved but dying car. :-) Thanks for hosting! -- Karen Edmisten http://karenedmisten.blogspot.com
Oct. 19th, 2007 02:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Karen Edmisten said:
Karen, your use of the word "vicissitudes" has made me inordinately happy today.
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