IF EVER I WANTED to step into a landscape to walk with a poet, I would eagerly join John Keats . . . lush bounty, harvest color, the promise of abundant provision. As a season, autumn is not a sign that winter death is near. It is a confirmation of the blessing of a season, the full-bodied experience of an autumn landscape. John Keats’ praise of autumn is one of his finest romantic creations, and one of his last.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
This—this is a rich land of milk and honey and sweet words. Keats’ descriptions are magical personification. Autumn is both friend and co-conspirator with the sun. They work together to ripen the final harvest of apples, gourds, nuts, and honey.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Autumn is a wisp of a woman waiting in her storehouse. The winnowing wind is the faint trace of her hair in the breeze. Then for a moment she drowses outside in the field, perhaps overcome by the heady scent, causing the harvesters to leave a swath of wheat and flowers behind because they are beautiful. And finally, with a heavy head from a full day she watches the cider presses do their work, a sign of her bounty as well.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Autumn has her own song of color and life and sound. She cannot be compared to her sister Spring, and yet their songs are similar. Listen to the sad hum of gnat clouds, the bleat of lambs, the song of crickets, the robin, the swallow.
Autumn is romanticized, but the beauty of every sense is brought to life with an attitude of gratefulness, a recognition that autumn brings life too.