Celebrate Sweater Weather with Keats’ “To Autumn”

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too

~ John Keats, “To Autumn”

Friday morning I opened the bottom drawer of my dresser and, for the first time in months, pulled out a sweater. For anyone else who has the summer version of SAD—not Seasonal Affective Disorder as much as Sunny Affective Disorder—you will share in my sense of joy. Heat and strong sunshine are my kryptonite. A hot and sunny summer, as this one has been, saps my energy and drains my emotional reserves.

But when I step outside and feel that first cool breeze that is the harbinger of fall, I feel myself begin to wake up from my long summer stupor. As an academic and someone who loves the feeling of back to school, I also have always felt September to be the start of the new year with its reflection and resolution, rather than January. Autumn rather than spring is my time of renewal and regrowth.

So, good-bye, tank tops. Hello, sweaters! I’ve missed you.

I encourage everyone to savor Keats’s ode “To Autumn” on a perennial basis. Read it slowly, aloud if at all possible. View the original manuscript pages here and here. Bookmark an analysis of the poem and a notes from Keats’ Kingdom.

To Autumn

by John Keats

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;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

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;
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:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, –
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

1 thought on “Celebrate Sweater Weather with Keats’ “To Autumn”

  1. Well, finally something we don’t agree on. :0>
    My grandfather moved to CA from WI to get away from the cold. I’ve lived in the Midwest (OH, MI, IN) and love the change of seasons. We have them here, too but you’ll notice…we flee Reno in January! Must be old age.
    Beautiful poem by Keats.

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