To Autumn (Keats poem)

To Autumn (Keats poem) Summary and Analysis of 12 - 22


In the second stanza, the speaker wonders where the true essence of autumn can be seen in the midst of the season's early joys. First, he imagines two characters who embody autumn's qualities: a person sitting in a granary, and another sleeping on "a half-reap'd furrow." Then, he compares the season to a gleaner who balances a basket of leftover crops on his head while he carefully crosses a brook. Finally, he imagines autumn patiently watching a cider press squeezing "the last oozings" of the season's fruit.


The speaker's varied personifications of autumn continue the list of the previous stanza. By describing autumn through the actions of specific characters, he demonstrates the season's complex contradictions: autumn is at once "careless" like the person who sits in the granary floor, but "steady" like the gleaner who carries his harvest across the brook. The season is drowsy and drunk on "the fume of poppies," but it is also patient and observant, watching the cider press like a timer that counts down to zero, where, when the last fruit is squeezed dry, winter will arrive.

Likewise, the imagery evokes a sense of something half-finished, the longing to linger within the moments that must inevitably pass. The wind softly lifts the person's hair in the granary, as though suggesting he must soon get up and move on, while the person who sleeps in the furrow decides to "spare" the next plot of poppies while he rests. Meanwhile, the gleaner carries away the leftovers of the harvest after he picks the fields clean, and another of autumn's personifications watches the cider press progress squeeze its final fruits, powerless to stop the passage of time. Here, the nature of the images the speaker creates is less straightforward than the buzzing bees and blooming flowers of stanza one: the characters are aware that autumn's gentle joys will soon disappear, and there is no sense of urgency in their actions. They are happy to slow down, to enjoy the moment for what it is.

The juxtaposition of stanzas one and two—the first, where the world seems ignorant of summer's final bounty, and the second, where autumn's personifications subtly express their bittersweet awareness of time's passing—foreshadows the speaker's reconciliation of these oppositions in the final stanza.