From a Genius--A Sentiment I Make My Own

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To Autumn
John Keats (1795-1821)

             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.

When I first encountered this poem in a Keats class in College the professor claimed that it was flawed in its near perfection. At the time I found that profound, and I suppose there is still some merit in the notion, but I think now that it is perfect in its near perfection, in its capturing of the spirit of the season so well.

(And yes, OBJ., I know you'd prefer I didn't wander so frequently in the groves of poetry. But then, I'd prefer that you would wander there more, and lead by the hand the little ones in your charge. And this goes for all you home-schooling moms! If it is within your power, give your children poetry early and often. And don't beat them over the head with analysis and with talk of symbolism and all sort of other nonsense that too often accompanies the reading of poem. Rather, savor the language, the richnesses, the rhythms, the sheer beauty of what is there and the symbolism and all the rest will follow, more or less naturally. Keats did not have to instruct his public in how to read his poetry, and they were a good deal less sophisticated than we claim to be. Poetry is an enormous gift to children--from sing-song rhymes to epic verse. Let it be an experience of immersion, not of distant intellectual approach.)

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you beat me to posting this, AGAIN! ;)



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 14, 2004 7:09 AM.

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