"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;"
In the poem's first lines, the speaker recognizes a symbiotic relationship between autumn and the sun: autumn, which signifies a culmination of a year's worth of work in the natural world, 'conspires' with the sun to bring the season's fruits to maturity. Likewise, the word "maturing" suggests that a period of growth is coming to its end: a peak has been achieved, which must inevitably begin to decline. Even as the speaker observes the "mellow fruitfulness" of autumn, he knows that this ease is bittersweet: the beauty and friendship he sees must be short-lived, and is ultimately doomed to decay.
"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;"
At the beginning of the second stanza, the speaker transitions from describing autumn's ubiquitous imagery to exploring other places where autumn may be found. Personifying the season as a person relaxing in a granary amid the fruits of harvest, the speaker emphasizes autumn's leisure: the image represents the season's ease and tranquility, but it also suggests innocence and ignorance. The youth, "sitting careless," has no idea that these weeks of peace will soon expire.
"Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?/ Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— "
In the final stanza, the speaker wonders where and when spring's promise and joy vanished as traces of life begin to drain from the world around him. Yet, he recognizes that autumn’s particular beauty and sorrow have their own songs: there is no point in comparing autumn to spring when each season ultimately signifies counterpoised truths about nature and life. Although knowledge of death and decay underpins autumn's ease and beauty, it doesn't make autumn any less beautiful, or the lessons that can be learned from the season any less valuable. The speaker decides against judgment and apprehension, and resolves to enjoy the time he as left before winter sets in, not thinking of the past but abiding in the present.
To Autumn (Keats poem) Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for To Autumn (Keats poem) is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.