To Autumn (Keats poem)

To Autumn (Keats poem) Literary Elements

Speaker or Narrator, and Point of View

a first-person speaker

Form and Meter

ode, three stanzas of eleven lines

Metaphors and Similes

"And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep/Thy steady laden head across a brook"

The speaker compares autumn to a gleaner who carefully balances the leftovers from a harvest on his head while crossing a small stream of water.

Alliteration and Assonance

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness"

Repetition of 's,' 'm', and 'f'

"While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day"

Repetition of 'b,' 's', 'd'



ode, Romantic poetry


the English countryside


understated, tranquil

Protagonist and Antagonist

'To Autumn' doesn't have a clear protagonist or antagonist—it's more of a philosophical meditation on the relationships between time, beauty, life, and death.

Major Conflict

The major conflict lies between the speaker, time, and the natural world as he reconciles the beauty he witnesses with the knowledge that it must end.


The climax of the poem occurs at the beginning of stanza three, when the speaker wonders Where are the songs of spring?" and then realizes that there is no need and no use in asking such a question.


At the end of the poem, the speaker foreshadows autumn's transition into winter through imagery that evokes mourning, growing up, and moving on.


Keats' uses of understatement permeates the poem. His use of soft, delicate language in the poem's first lines establishes the poem's tone. In the last stanza, his use of imagery—the sunset slowly coloring the landscape with its rosy hue, the swallows twittering in the sky—emphasize the subtle transitions of the seasons. Keats eases the reader in the poem, gently building to the speaker's realization at the end.


Metonymy and Synecdoche


"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...'

The speaker personifies autumn through as a person sitting on a granary floor and as someone who picks poppies in a field.


"For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells."

Keats exaggerates the amount of honey in the bees' cells to express the excessive joys of autumn.


"Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn/ Among the river swallows..."

The speaker connects the buzz of gnats to a choir.

"And fill grown lambs bleat from holly bourn;/ Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft/ The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;/ And gathering swallows twitter in the skies."

The poem ends with numerous examples of onomatopoeia, from "bleating" lambs to "twittering" birds.