Keats' Poems and Letters

“To Autumn”

Keats’ “To Autumn” is an ode that concerns itself more with the true nature of reality than many of his earlier works. The Spring Odes—“Ode to Psych”, “Ode to a Nightingale”, and “Ode on a Grecian Urn”—are all representative of consistent searching. The speaker in these odes is often yearning for an answer to several existential questions that mankind can not easily resolve. These questions create overarching tensions throughout the odes and leave the reader in a state of uneasiness. “To Autumn” is Keats’ ultimate solution to these earlier odes. Being the only poem of Keats’ to be ground fully in reality, this ode sets up a type of substantial finality to what he is expressing regarding the nature of life and death. By grounding his ideas in what is inherently true, he can further prove that his answer is just as authentic as reality itself.

One of the most important features to note about this ode is Keats’ departure from the common Romantic form. Poetry of this period followed a format that initially presented a narrator in an expressed setting who often drifts off into a visionary reverie. After being led through this imaginative dream, the reader again encounters the initial setting that is somehow altered or resolved. In...

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