Essay title: In what ways does John Keats express the intensity of feeling in the poem ‘To Autumn’? The poem ‘ To Autumn’, is, as its title suggests an ode to the season of autumn. The writer, John Keats, presents extremely intense feelings in this poem and we gain a full idea as to what the season may perhaps, mean to him. This essay will concentrate on these intense feelings that we, the reader, discover throughout the course of the poem, and will look at the various ways in which they are expressed.
The first example of the importance of autumn to the poet is in the title itself, in which the season has been made into a noun ‘ To Autumn’. We further know from the title, as mentioned above, that the writer has dedicated this poem to autumn, and this also reflects the intensity of feeling being put across. The first line of the poem is very relaxed and provides a pleasant start to the poem. The word ‘fruitfulness’ adds emphasis on the fullness of autumn, and also the alliteration on the letter ‘m’ encourages a casual and calm feeling in the reader.
In the second line of the poem, John Keats presents us with a metaphor:- ‘Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless’ The meaning behind this metaphor is a contrast between male and female. The sun, being male (as known in Greek mythology) is warming the earth and creating produce, and the season, being female, conspires with him ‘how to load and bless’. These are all heavy workloads and highlight the fullness of autumn. Further, we gain an impression from these two lines of a woman maturing, and perhaps, of autumn being fecund and fertile.
The contrast used is immensely striking. The poet also describes the ripe and totally sweet fruit that can be found in autumn and the theme of everything being full and heavy is further accentuated. The use of such words as ‘swell’ and ‘plump’, and phrases such as ‘To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees’ confirm this. Towards the end of the verse, the poet uses complex language to express the fullness of life. The reader is left with an overwhelming nature of a full, and mature, sweet autumn, and an extreme intensity of feeling. In the second paragraph, we realise that autumn has now become a woman.
John Keats uses personification to indicate this:- ‘Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;’ The season has matured into a woman with ‘hair soft-lifted . . . ‘ and who is ‘sitting careless . . . ‘ From this we gain the idea of Mother Earth maturing as autumn ripens the fruit and such, ready for spring and the other seasons that are to follow. Further, the alliteration on the letter ‘w’ in the phrase ‘winnowing wind’ provides a soft sound and mood to the poem.
This is useful to provide the right setting for the reader in the next few lines of the poem to follow. After a few lines, we come across a striking line:- ‘Drowsed with the fume of poppies, . . . ‘ Keats uses onomatopoeia in the form of the word ‘fume’ to really involve the reader into the poem and grasp our attention. Having read this line, we feel almost drowsy and drunk on the smell of the poppies. The line is also extraordinary, as we know that poppies have no smell, and hence, is quite striking in its self-contradiction.