Ode to Autumn Critical AnalysisOde to Autumn Critical Analysis

John Keats, the last romantic poet, wrote his last poem Ode to Autumn which was published in 1820 in which he explored his critical thinking about autumn after doing an analysis of this season. Nature highly influenced John Keats; therefore, he always tried to find a chance to praise its beauty. Another poem by John Keats shares the theme of despair as obvious in Ode on Melancholy analysis. The Autumn season usually creates a type of sensation in the hearts of poets. Many poets desperately wrote about the autumn season whereas others glorified its beauty. John Keats in this ode too exaggerates the beauty of the autumn season. He wrote a letter to Reynolds on September 22, 1819, in which he wrote:-

“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, eye better than the chilly green of 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.”

John Keats

Critical Analysis of Ode to Autumn

John Keats’ this ode is full of passion and excitement. He is very much delighted after seeing nature around him in the autumn season. Thus, he shows his readers the power of his imagination. He skillfully knits everything in this ode, hence, the same contains many beautiful images. It should be remembered that John Keats was the most idealist poet; hence, perhaps it is the only reason why he is called the last but best romantic poet as evidenced by a critical analysis of Ode to Autumn.

Ode to Autumn Critical Analysis | Stanza by Stanza

Stanza-I

John Keats sees autumn as a season of mist. It may be unattractive for many people but Keats does not rebuke the mist. In fact, he can never rebuke any object of nature. In his opinion, the autumn season with the help of sun rays ripens fruits of all kinds. There is nothing in the poetry of John Keats except the description of natural images as he does not think from any other angle. Thus, only nature and its related objects are there in his poetry. He then paints some more images in this stanza; such as apple juice, branches of trees, wine, flowers, hazzle-nuts and bees.

From the critical analysis of the very first stanza of the Ode to Autumn, readers realize the antipodal thinking of John Keats. Autumn has often been described in poetry as a symbol of melancholy, hopelessness and despair but in the view of John Keats, this season brings joy. As a consequence, the critics have rightly judged John Keats as a poet of nature because nature never disappoints him nor does it make him sad rather it delights him. 

We also realize that the poet does not escape from the world of reality. He keeps his subject matter as simple as possible. There is no second meaning to this poem. He talks about the autumn season and autumn means autumn. No symbol has been attached to any word. Keats’ poetry is for laymen. He never uses far-fetched metaphors nor does he portray ambiguous images. His poetry is lucid, hence, one does not need any specific dictionary to understand his poetry. 

Stanza-II Critical Analysis of Ode to Autumn

In the second stanza of the poem, the poet illustrates four pictures of the autumn season; firstly, he personifies it as a woman who has been shown as a harvester doing winnowing; secondly, he personifies it as a tired reaper; thirdly, he sees autumn as a collector/gleaner; and fourthly he gives autumn season attributes of cider-presser who obtains juice of fruits usually of apples for making wine. 

In this stanza, the poet personifies autumn, which is one of the major attributes of Greek literature. Greeks myths gave human characteristics to clouds, sun, rain, wind and mountains. It is the case with John Keats. He time and again personifies natural objects. Ode to Grecian Urn is a remarkable example of it in which he sketches an alive picture of Greeks.

The poet provides a coloured picture of the autumn season. Keats’ poetry affects all five senses. Readers cannot only imagine the images but also hear the sounds that he describes in his poems. It is therefore, critics say that he does poetry for the sake of poetry and not for the purpose of reformation. 

Stanza-III

The poet excitedly asks questions at the very beginning of this stanza. He asks “Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?” In many poems, readers can observe the technique of putting two opposite things in juxtaposition. For instance, in Ode to Nightingale, he compares the mortality of humans with the immortal song of the nightingale. 

From a deeper critical analysis of Ode to Autumn, it is evident that he compares spring with autumn. Although the spring season is the season of the blossoming flowers, the autumn season has its own importance. It is the season of mist and that is enough for John Keats. In this stanza, the poet describes what he wrote in his letter. In autumn, the poet finds pleasure in stubble fields, covered red due to sunlight, grasshoppers’ chirp and twitter of the insects.

All these beautiful songs are there then there is no need to find or hear any song of spring. The poet wants to say that autumn has its own attributes just like other seasons. Compared to the spring season, autumn is rich as it gives fruits and such sounds which are pleasing to the ears.

Last but not the least, everything in this ode is loud and clear. Describing fields to the glorification of songs of insects, the poet uses a technique of simplicity, hence, there is a Greek spirit in this ode. Groser’s words are notable to conclude the critical analysis of Ode to Autumn. He wrote:

“where all that is lovely in orchard and garden wheat-field and riverside, beneath a September sky is laid under contribution in lines of absolute beauty, was inspired by a quiet work through the stubble-fields around Winchester”.

Groser on critical analysis of Ode to Autumn