Ode to Autumn by Jhon Keats Questions and Answers Pdf
1. Discuss with specific references how far ‘Ode to Autumn’ is a representative poem from Keats.
What constitutes the essence of Keats? The question is not simple, but interesting enough to focus on what poetical traits of Keats has revealed his poetical genius Keats is definitely an important name among romantic poets. Yet, he is different from the earlier romantic poets in his concept and ideal of life. ‘The specific features that constitute his poetic art make what he, as a poet, specifically is. The poems which represent his poetical excellence, as well as the poetic form, in which he seems to excel, definitely mark his genius and bears out the essence of his representative works. Keats’s Ode to Autumn, as his representative poem, is to be determined from this angle.
In the first place, the form of the poem is ‘Ode? An ode is a kind of lyrical poem, usually in the pattern of an address. This has an exalted and dignified theme, a lofty idealization and a rare musical harmony. Among the makers of Odes, Keats stands out prominently with such immortal odes-Ode to a Naghtingle, Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode to Autumn and many more. These odes are the marvels of Romantic poetry. All these odes indicate indelibly his romantic genius and bring out their greatness as a whole. Ode to Autumn, as an individual ode, is nothing ignorable or insignificant and well represents Keats’s genius as the master maker of Odes.
In the second place, subjectivity marks Keats’s poetry. This is also the essential feature in an ode. “Ode to Autumn’is a poetic recollection of the poet’s personal experience of the season of autumn in September 1819. His letters to John Hamilton Reynolds from Winchester runs thus : “How beautiful the season is now-how fine the air-a temperate sharpness about it! Really, without joking, chaste weather : Dian skies! I never liked stubble-fields so much as now—aye, better than the chilly green of the spring.”. The traces of the poet’s own experiences is clearly discernible in this ode as in his two other famous Odes— ‘Ode to a Nightingale and ‘Ode on a Grecian Urnt. The poet’s picturesque presentation of the common English scenes at autumn is a grand specimen of his poetic subjectivity. Even the poet’s reference to ‘barredclouds’, ‘stubble-plains and the entire songs of autumn equally bear out the presence of Keats’s subjectivity in this Ode.
Keats is a romantic poet and ‘Ode to Autumn is definitely a romantic poem. Love for nature is always a cardinal feature in romantic literature. In Keats this love for nature is strongly perceived, although it is different from what this is in Wordsworth or Shelley. His attachment to nature is expressed in the sensuous representation of the world of nature. The entire scene of nature, enriched with plentiful flowers and fruit, is given a lively presentation in the lines of Keats”To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core ; To swell the ground, and plump the hazel shells.
With a sweet karnel ; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,” What gives Keats a specific place and a leading position in English poetry is his love for beauty. He is a poet of beauty and his poetry echoes his strongly personal ideal-“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever”. Of course, Keats’s sense of beauty is based on no external feature. Only it is not judged by what appears from an outward view. His beauty is as much of exterior as of interior. This is absolute beauty that is manifested in different natural sights and sounds. Keats’s love for beauty is here seen even in very common objects as of a reaper, sitting carelessly on a granary floor, or a gleaner, steadily crossing a brook with a load on her head. Nor less is this beauty expressed in the scene of the softly dying day on which the barred clouds bloom and touched the stubble plains with rosy hue
“While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
plains with rosy hue ; His sound of beauty is heard in the soft whistle of the red breast and the twittering of the gathering swallows and the rythmic murmur of the hedge crickets “Hedge-crickets sing ; and now with treble soft The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft
And touch the stubble
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.”
Last but not least is the felicity of Keatsean music in the cdes. Here he has hardly any rival. His verses are rich not merely in the splendour of words but also in the sonority of sound. Matthew Arnold has complimented Keats for fascinating felicity of his versification and places him with Shakespeare in the perfection of lovelinness of versification. Here he is perfectly just in his assessment. The harmonious charm of his verses confirmes and adds to Keats’s merit as a romantic poet.
The most characteristic form of Keatsean odes consists of the regular arrangements of a group at stanzas of a complex structure. The stanza of his odes contains the same number of lines, written in iambic metre. ‘Ode to Autumn contains three stanzas of eleven iambic lines, while ‘Ode to a Nightingale and ‘Ode on a Grecian Urri have eight and five stanzas of ten iambic lines each.
2. Examine ‘Ode to Autum’ as a specific instance of romantic poetry. Illustrate your answer.
How far do the romantic touches of Keatsean poetry animate and enliven ‘Ode to Autumn?’ Discuss with illustrations.’
The poet in Keats belongs to the group of new poets that flourished in the beginning of the 19th century with the publication of ‘Lyrical Ballads’in 1798, a joint poetical work of Wordsworth and Coleridge. That was the great beginning of the romantic movement in English literature. Keats, as already asserted, was a romantic poet, although he came much later, rather after the total silence of the echo of the French Revolution. Nevertheless he is a formidable figure in romantic literature of the 19th century, although, as a romantic poet , his difference from three great mastersKalyani-iveno?7 00
Wordsworth, Byron and Shelley-are distinctly patent. His concept and approach are unlike theirs, although there is no reason for belittling or ignoring the romantic aspect of his poetry.
It is definitely not easy to define romanticism or restrict this in a shallow slogan. The essence of romanticism is truly perceived in the natural and free expression of all that is in nature and in man by the artist’s creative imagination and urge. Grace in childhood and simple rural life, glory in such natural elements, as lakes and mountains and clouds, suspense and thrill in the supernatural, and interest in the soul of the past are some of the manifestations of the creative imagination of romanticism. Of course, there are some distinct romantic marks in literature as clearly evident in the works of the romantic poets of the 19th century such as Wordsworth and Coleridge, Byron and Shelley and lastly Keats. Of course, all poets are not found to possess all the features of romantic poetry. After all poetry is not the procduct of hand made rules, but a natural expression of mind and spirit. In this respect Keats is specifically noteworthy. His quality, as a romantic poet, is borne out in the form as well as treatment of his poetry.
3. What is an Ode ? Assess the quality of ‘Ode to Autumn’ as an Ode.
One of the opulent English poetical types is distnictly the ode. As a matter of fact, a good many odes by different English masters enrich the store house of English literature, particularly English poetry. Among such outstanding English odes, the odes of Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats deserve particular mention.
An ode is a sort of lyrical poetry and has some characteristic features of its own to mark its differences from other lyrics and stand out exclusively by its own merit. The ode is usually in the form of an address, usually made to some high object or ideal of life. The poet’s tone here is exalted and contains venerations for some thing, high and dignified. Naturally the theme has an exalted character. Finally, an ode possesses a rare musical harmony to draw and enchant its readers as well as listemers.
Keats’s ‘Ode to Autumn’ranks very high among his finest odes. It perfectly catches and presents, with the marvel of pictures and music, the very subject of adoration and idealization by the poet.
The theme of Ode to Autumn’ is the unstinted admiration of the season of autumn, rarely placed as a season of an appealing beauty in poetical expressions. The present poem, written by Keats in September 1819 was inspired by his personal expreiences, full of pleasurable sensation. The poet is here found struck immensely by the beauty of the season—the fine weather and the lovely scenic setting of the season. And he records vividly his own impression of the season of autumn in ‘Ode to Autumn’ , one of the great successful poetic efforts by Keats in the realm of English poetry.
An ode has usually the form of an address, as already mentioned. The poet addresses here some dead or absent person, a natural element, or even an abstract idea, or an inanimate object. Alike Ode to a Nightingale and Ode on a Grecian Urn, ‘Ode to Autumn makes an address and this is clearly expressed. The address here is, however, made simply to the season of autumn, definitely a natural element. Again, an ode contains an idealization or a sort of dignified presentation of the subject addressed and treated. As in his other odes, ‘Ode to Autumn’ reveals the poet’s attachment to the natural season of autumn and his adoring description of this very season, in its varied sights, mystic spirit and soft but deep sound.
Conclusion : As in Keats’s other famous odes, ‘Ode to Autumn well illustrates the synthesis between hard realism and dreamy inagination, between thought and feeling and between theme and music to create a marvel of thought and poetry of beauty and music. 1
4 .Bring out the theme of Keats’s Ode to Autumn and the structural harmony in which this is conveyed. Comment in this connection the thematic originality of this ode.
How does Keats combine the naturaal, animal and human worlds in his poem ‘To Autumn’.
Keats begins his address to autumn with a precise representation of the abundance of different kinds of fruit and flowers in the season. In a romantic vein, he characterises autumn as an intimate friend of the sun with the help of which it goes on producing and ripening fruits in an abundant measure. He describes briefly but graphically how the thatch-eves are covered with the vines and the apple trees are loaded with their fruit under the impact of autumn. Finally, the poet mentions the plentiful blossoming of flowers during the season, misleading the bees with the idea that the summer season will never end, as their hives are full to the brim with honey. Yet they continue to gather this even in the late season of autumn.
The entire stanza, comprising 11 lines, well bears out Keats’s romantic temper and gift of image-making. The growth and ripening of the fruits and the plenteous blossoming at autumn are vividly drawn, suggesting thereby the poet’s sharp imagism. In the next stanza, Keats mentions different activities, conducted in the season of autumn, in order to personify the spirit of autumn. He draws four distinct, though brief, protraits to indicate how the essence of the season is manifested in such activities. First, he refers to the scene of a granary. A woman is represented here as sitting on the granary floor amidst the harvested crops, with her hair softly swayed by the blowing wind. Second, the spirit of autumn comes out in the reaping of the crops and the poet draws a pregnant picture precisely of a reaper, just fallen drowsed under the impact of the poppy plant, without completing the reaping of the next bunch of crops. The third scene is the crossing of a brook by a gleaner with a load of the husks of harvested crops. Finally, the process of wine manufacturing in the cider press is shown to indicate how the spirit of autumn lives in diverse poses.
The stanza comprises some very vivid and suggestive images from are more realistic though less romantic than what is seen in ‘Ode to A Nightingale: Nevertheless, the images are extremely appropriate, real and perfectly represent what may be seen normally in the season of autumn. The poet, in a romantic mood, inspirits autumn with all those scenes and thereby endows it with a living entity , natural to romantic imagination.
Finally the poet speaks of the song of autumn. Of course, he categorically asserts that the song of autumn is different from that of spring or summer. This has its own distinctive characteristic and quality. The poet indicates how the song of autumn is echoed in different sounds, commonly heard in the season. In the first place, there is the mourning of small gnats in some shallow spots, carried forward by the blowing wind. Second, there is the loud bleating of the lambs, pent up in the hilly sheep-fold. Third is the song of the hedge-crickets. The whistle of the Robin redbreast in some garden constitutes another song. Finally, the twittering of the swallows flying together in the sky constitutes another song of the season.
The poet’s glorification of the songs of autumn is somewhat uncommon and distinctly distinguishable from the romantic representation of the songs of spring. In this connection a comparison with ‘Ode to A Nightingale may well serve to light up how the song of autumn is distinctly different from that of spring. Different sounds and their echoes heard in the season of autumn is presented with a realistic and conscious vision by the poet. As a result the poem seems to be more at home with the readers less imaginative but more practical.
The address here is to a natural element, the season of autumn. The theme is actually the glorification of the season of autumn through the representations of its sights, smell and sound and different activities conducted in the season. What, however, is not found here is that any outspoken glorification of the theme of beauty as a joy foraver. The Ode, unlike the other two odes, has no motto to glorify straight beauty as a matter of eternal joy. The appeal of beauty is rather suggested through the quiet scenes of the season.
One more point of excellence is the perfect structural division of the poem conveying the entire theme. The poem, as already indicated, is on the season of autumn in its various aspects—its sights, smell, spriti and songs. Each of the three stanzas is well employed to bring out distinctly thee different thematic aspects. The opening stanza, thus, refers to the sights of the season along with the pleantifulness and sweet smells of its fruit and flowers. The second stanza suggestively personifies the spirit of autumn through possibly a female figure participating in diverse operations in the SEASON. There is the woman with her softly lifted hair by the winnowing wind, sitting on a granary floor. Then there is the gleaner with heavy load on the head moving steadily across a brook. Lastly is the patient watcher of the last woozing from a cider press . The last stanza speaks of the songs of autumn. These are categorically distinguished from those of spring but their own peculiarity and exclusiveness are asserted no less forcibly by the poet.
5. How far does Keats’s ‘Ode to Autumn’ convey the serene acceptance of life ?
Keats is supposed to have reached the meridian of his poetic excellence in his Odes. Of his celebrated Odes, Ode to Autumn stands out rather singularly and distinctly bears out its notes of difference from his other great Odes like Ode to a Nightingale and Ode on A Grecian Urn. In Ode to a Nightingale, there is an impulsive note of despair at the end, despite the stark glorification of the beauty of a natural element, while Ode on a Grecian Urn marks the poets triumphant declaration of the oneness of truth and beauty at the conclusion.
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”.
In Ode to Autumn, there is, however, no such impulsive tone of exultation or frustration. There is rather a serene acceptance of the state of living and the perception of beauty in what is left behind.
In Ode to Autumn, Keats’s subject-matter is the season of autumn with all its varied sights and sounds and activites. The very subject of the poem offers Keats an occasion for the treatment of Nature which is characteristic of his romantic temper. Yet, Nature is presented in Ode to Autumn, not with so much impulsiveness as in Ode to a Nightingale. There is no glowing, spetacular picture of the woodland of the nightingale, alive with a rich store of fragrant botanic world. On the other hand, Keats’s description here is grave and quiet, without any sparkle or passion. Autumn is described as the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness. There is the tinge of colour , but that is rather pale and serene and marks a distinctive feature of Keatsian sensuousness. The description of the vines that round the thatch-eves run, the moss’d cottage trees, bend with apples, and the fruit with repeness to the core are all illustrative of Keats’s interest in and fondness for the world of Nature. Yet, there is no passionate outburst, no longing, lingering craving, but rather a quiet representation of the variety in the world of Nature.
Everywhere the operation is soft, and not sensational. The spirit of the season of autumn is perceived in a reaper, a farmer sitting on a granary floor, or a gleaner crossing a brook, or a winemaker watching the last oozing. In all these cases, the spirit of Nature has nothing to stir emotion or imagination violently. Keats rather presents here images, soft, sincere, but interesting enough.
Ode to Autum, however, is not merely the poem of sensuous pictures. brings out the sweet and harmonious sound in the world of Nature. Along with the melancholy portrait of different operations in autumn, the poet mentions the music of the season. This song here is not as penetrative as that of the skylark or nightingale. It does not seem to charm the world like the nightingale’s song. This is the song soft and pleasant, with something of transitoriness but nothing of the passion of love or sense of failure. The poet speaks of the songs of autumn, which are not like the songs of spring. These songs come out of less known and rather quiet little creatures. The wailful choir of the asmall gnats, the bleat of the full grown lambs, the hum of the headge-crickets and the treble soft from the red breasts, whistling from a garden croft, and the twittering of the gathering swallows in the sky constitute the songs of autumn. These songs have nothing of the loudness or impulse of the song, heard in the world of nature in summer or spring. Keats holds here a preference to calmness and pensiveness to excellence and vehemence.
Indeed, the mood expressed in this Ode, is one of calm resignation. The glamour of spring is over, but there is no lament for this. On the other hand, the poet accepts, with a calm diguity, what is left behind. He finds in the season of autumn enough compensatory elements for the loss of the joys of spring. The poet here does not crave for a new world of hope and happiness, but rather prefers to dwell in the calmness of the little world of Nature and accepts with a serene resignation the changes in Nature as the inevitable effect of a lasting creative process.
6. Discuss briefly Keat’s treatment of Nature with reference to ‘Ode to Autumn’.
The romantic imagination is generally fed by the world of Nature with all its beauty, peace and plenty. The great romantic poets of the first half of the mineteenth century particularly represent the triumph of the romantic imagination in the sphere of nature poetry.
of course, the romantic imagination is not found operative in the same way in all cases. In fact, the romantic poets differ from one another in their approach to and estimation of nature. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley and Keats may all be taken as the poets of Nature. But they cannot all be placed on the exactly same plan as nature-poets.
As a poet of Nature, Keats is somewhat different from his great contemporaries. He differs from Wordsworth and Coleridge on the one hand and Shelley and Byron on the other in his treatment of Nature. A critic has aptly points out his difference from his two illustrious predecessors— Wordsworth and Shelley: “Where Wordsworth spiritualizes and Shelley intellectualises nature, Keats is content to express her through the senses; the colour , the scent, the touch, the pulsing music; these are the things that stir him to his depths ; there is not a mood of earth he does not love, not a season that will not cheer or inspire him.”
Indeed, Keats’s aympathy with Nature is neigther idealistic, nor ethicall.
To him, Nature is a source of delightful sensation of forms and colours and fragrance. His love for Nature is human rather than spiritual, like Wordsworth’s, or idealistic, like Shelley’s. It is far more concrete and personal than what is found in the poetry of Wordsworth or Shelley.
Keats’s appreciation of Nature, as already indicated, is sensuous. Her sights and sounds and scents dominate his poetic sentiment. Nature becomes to him a storehouse of enchantment because of all that she has to thrill and spell the physical sensations of men.
The poem Ode to Autumn, sufficiently testifies to the poetic genius of Keats and bears out the characteristic features of his poetry. It illustrates, in a typical way, the method of Keats’s treatment of Nature.
The poet’s sensuous love of Nature is manifest al through the poem. He draws, one after another, the lovely and colourful sights of Nature in the season of autumn. The mist and the mellow fruitfulness of the season, the ripeness of the fruit and the profuse blossoming of flowers are all brought out in a masterly fashion. Nature, in her mighty creastive operation, is superbly described in a few words, 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
To Wordsworth and Shelley, Nature is a living Being. Keats’s poetry claims no such high philosophy of Nature. The spirit of Nature is always interpreted and adored by him in the light of her sights and sounds. Autumn is personified in Keats’s ode. But this is not done in any conventional way. The poet here faithfully delineates every sight and sound of the season, without interoducing any subjective or spiritual element in his description. The spirit of autumn is presented through the season’s varied activities. Autumn is personified under the familiar sights and sounds still more, of the season.
Keats is fundamentally a poet of beauty. To him, a thing of beauty is a joy for ever. In the opinion of another critic— “Keats had no religion, save the religion of beauty, no God, save Pan.” This love of beauty is found no less patent in Keats’s treatment of Nature. He is drawn to all that is fair and lovely in the world of Nature. Ode to Autumn is alive with the poet’s ardent love for the beauty of Nature, which seems to have become dear to him for her every sight,
Ode to Autumn remains a classic example of Keats’s nature-poetry. In the description of the season, there is not a single item that is unfamiliar. There is nothing in the description that is not trivial or commonplace. Yet, how truthfully, beautifully and convincingly, the whole description of the spirit of autumn is conceived and communicated. This is the supreme triumph of Keats as a human lover of every sound and every smell.
7. How does the poet bring out the abundance of the season of Autumn in his Ode?
The poet addresses the season of autumn and goes to desctribe the abundance in the production of fruit and flowers in this season. In this connection, he particularly brings out here the scene of plenteous blossming of flowers all over, found in this very season.
Autumn is a scene of abundance in fruit and flowers. The poet makes a positive assertion that the process of blossoming grows continuous, uninterrupted all through the season. More and more buds are found to bloom continuously in this season. As a result, the bees get almost an unsparing supply of honey, gathered from flowers. In a romantic vein the poet imagines how the bees are made to think, by the continuity of the blossoming of flowers, that the happy season of summer will never come to an end. Their hives have ulready been overflown with the spoils of flowers and their cells have turned slippery with honey. Naturally they may have, perhaps, in them a notion about the inexhaustible stores of blossoms for them all over the season.
What the poet particularly emphasizes here is the abundance of blossoming in the season of autum. The image drawn here is brief enough, yet it is quite graphic and highly touching in simplicity and vividness. The poet’s imaginative guess of the bees at the sight of the long continuity of blossoming is a marvel of Keats’s romance in imagination. Again, the personification of the summer season adds further to the romantic quality of the poem.
8. How far the spirit of Autumn is revealed in diverse human activities?
The poem is a graphic record of the natural setting and the rich productivity of the season of autumn. In this connection the poet lays down different operational activities in the season of autumn. He seems to perceive therein the spirit of the season and this impression is recorded here by him with a rare romantic adroitness.
The poet mentions in this stanza three important activities of autumn-harvesting, gleaning and pressing of the plants and fruit. Looking upon these activities of autumn as a personified self of the season, the poet draws a feminine figure to represent a reaper, a gleaner and a cider-presser. In the season of autumn can be seen the granary full of harvest, reaped from the cultivated field. The poet vivifies the picture of a woman who is sitting on the floor of such a granary. Her hair is softly lifted by the ‘winnowing wind’. Again, the poet personifies the spirit of autumn in another posture of the reaper who has fallen asleep in course of reaping the corps. Drowsed, perhaps, with the fumes of poppies, she is sound asleep without cutting the next swath of corps in her hand. Another personification of the spirit of autumn is found in the a gleaner who is walking steadily across a stream with the weight of grains on her head. Finally, the spirit of autumn is visualised by the poet in the figure of another woman who is crushing the ripe apples or any other fruit in the wooden cider-press and watching patiently how the juice of the fruit is flowing out of the press drop by drop.
The peresent passage is a grand instance of Keats’s romantic image-making. The season of autumn is given here a concrete shape and a concrete personality through the different seasonal operations of the time.
9. What does Keats say of the songs of Autumn?
The poet asserts that the season of autumn is not bereft of songs, although its songs may be distinctly different from the song of spring. He admits frankly that the sweet songs of spring, such as of the nightangle and of the cuckoo, are not audīble in this season. But the poet claims that there is nothing to regret for that. Nor does he admit the limitation of the season of autumn here. On the other hand, he goes to contend positively that autumn has its own songs, typical of its nature and distinguishable from the songs of the season of spring and summer. He goes to indicate how the songs of autumn are well echoed through different sounds well heard in this season. In the mourning of the gnats in shallow watery spots at the end of daylight, in the loud bleating of the full grown lambs from their hilly fields, in the choric song of hedge-crickets, in the soft whistling of the robin redbreast, in a graden croft and in the twittering of the swallows gatheing in the sky, the songs of autumn assume a definite shape and indicate a distinct character for the season.
Keats’s representation of the song of autumn is definitely uncommon, rather rare in romantic literature. Other romantic poets are found to sing in praise of the season of spring or summer. But Keats has his peculier fonndness for the song of autumn. This perhaps represents his particular temper that has a touch of romantic morbidity and melancholy.
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