Friday, March 19, 2010

To Autumn

If I were asked to define autumn I would say ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’. Indeed I would recite the whole first stanza of Keats’ famous poem, It’s buried deep in my literary midden. Mrs Bulman, teacher at sole-charge Okuti primary school has us commit it to memory. I’m grateful.

It coloured my picture of England. At the time I was reading H.V.Morton’d ‘In Search of England’ so this swoony, rural vision of the Old Country was fastened on my consciousness. It gave a romantic twist to my idea of what poetry was and should be. The slightly old-fashion diction carried a sense of a slightly different world. Finally, there was an elegance and contentment – mellow frutifulness, indeed. .

To Autumn

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

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, 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.

John Keats

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