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To Autumn – 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.

Word Notes

  1. Mists – Foggy
  2. Mellow – Soft, pleasant
  3. Fruitfulness – Abundance
  4. Bosom-friend – Close friend
  5. Maturing – Growing, developing
  6. Conspiring – Collaborating, planning
  7. Load – Fill
  8. Bless – Provide goodness or prosperity to
  9. Thatch-eves – Roofs made of thatch
  10. Moss’d – Covered in moss
  11. Cottage-trees – Trees near a small house
  12. Ripeness – Fully matured, ready to eat
  13. Gourd – A type of fruit with a hard shell (e.g., pumpkin)
  14. Plump – Round, full
  15. Hazel shells – Shells of hazelnuts
  16. Kernel – Inner part of a nut or seed
  17. Budding – Growing, sprouting
  18. Clammy – Damp, sticky
  19. Cells – Small compartments or spaces
  20. O’er-brimm’d – Overflowing, filled to the brim
  21. Granary: A building or a storehouse for storing grain.
  22. Winnowing: The process of separating the grain from the chaff (outer covering) by tossing it in the air so that the wind blows away the lighter chaff.
  23. Furrow: A long narrow trench made in the ground by a plow.
  24. Drows’d: An abbreviated form of “drowsed,” which means to be in a state of drowsiness or sleepiness.
  25. Poppies: Colorful flowers known for their bright petals, often associated with sleep and relaxation.
  26. Swath: A row of cut grain or grass.
  27. Gleaner: A person who gathers leftover grain or crops from a field after the main harvest.
  28. Laden: Heavily loaded or burdened.
  29. Cyder-press: A press used for extracting juice from apples or cider-making.
  30. Oozings: The slow, steady flow or seepage of liquid.
  31. Barred: Referring to clouds that have a pattern of parallel lines or bars.
  32. Soft-dying: Describing the gentle fading or declining nature of the day.
  33. Stubble-plains: Fields or open areas covered with the cut stalks of crops after harvesting.
  34. Wailful: Expressing or filled with sorrow or grief.
  35. Choir: A group of singers who perform together.
  36. Gnats: Small, flying insects that resemble mosquitoes.
  37. Sallows: Willow trees or shrubs.
  38. Aloft: Up in the air; high above.
  39. Full-grown: Completely developed or matured.
  40. Bourn: A small stream or brook.
  41. Hedge-crickets: Insects commonly found in hedges that produce a chirping sound.
  42. Treble: High-pitched or shrill.
  43. Croft: A small enclosed field, often used for gardening or farming.
  44. Swallows: Birds known for their swift, agile flight.
  45. Twitter: The sound made by birds when they chirp or sing.

Explanation of To Autumn by John Keats

John Keats, one of the most prominent poets of the Romantic era, wrote several works that are still celebrated today. His poem “To Autumn” is widely considered a masterpiece, and it has remained a popular work since its publication in 1819. “To Autumn” is an ode to the season of Autumn, in which Keats uses vivid imagery to describe the season’s beauty.

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.

In this opening stanza, Keats addresses autumn directly, personifying it as a close companion of the sun. He describes autumn as a season of mist and gentle abundance, working in harmony with the sun to nurture and bless the fruits and crops. Keats mentions the vines that run around thatched roofs, which are laden with fruit, and the trees in the mossy cottages that are bent with apples. He also refers to the swelling gourd and hazel shells, indicating the ripeness and plumpness of the harvest. Keats further emphasizes the continuous growth and blooming of flowers, providing sustenance to the bees. He notes that the bees are tricked into thinking that warm days will last forever, as summer has filled their honeycombs to the brim.

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.

In the second stanza, Keats continues to personify autumn and describes different scenes associated with the season. He questions who has not witnessed autumn amid its abundance. Keats then portrays autumn in various scenarios. Sometimes it can be found sitting casually on the floor of a granary, with its hair gently lifted by the wind that winnows the harvested grain. At other times, autumn is depicted as being asleep on a partially harvested field, intoxicated by the scent of poppies, while its sickle spares the remaining flowers. Keats also likens autumn to a gleaner, walking steadily across a brook with a head full of harvested crops. Finally, autumn is depicted patiently observing the final drops of cider being extracted from the press.

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.

In the final stanza, Keats reflects on the absence of the songs of spring and advises not to dwell on their absence. Instead, autumn has its own music. Keats describes how the day is softened by clouds that bloom and bring a rosy hue to the stubble-plains, the remnants of harvested crops. Keats then shifts the focus to the sounds of autumn. He describes the mournful choir of small gnats that sing among the willow trees along the river, their presence carried by the gentle breeze. The full-grown lambs on the hillsides bleat loudly, while hedge-crickets add their own melody. Keats mentions the redbreast (a robin) whistling softly from a garden-croft, a small enclosed field, and the gathering swallows that twitter in the sky. These various sounds and observations highlight the lively and vibrant nature of autumn, even as it approaches its end.

MCQs & Answers from To Autumn by John Keats

1. What is the rhyme scheme of To Autumn?

A) ABAB CDCD EFEF
B) ABBA CDDC EFFE
C) ABAB CDEDCCE
D) ABBA CDECDDE

Answer: C) ABAB CDEDCCE

2. What is the meter of To Autumn?

A) Iambic pentameter
B) Trochaic tetrameter
C) Anapestic trimeter
D) Dactylic hexameter

Answer: A) Iambic pentameter

3. What is the name of the poetic device that personifies autumn as a close friend of the sun in line 2?

A) Metaphor
B) Simile
C) Apostrophe
D) Synecdoche

Answer: C) Apostrophe

4. What is the name of the poetic device that compares autumn to a gleaner in line 19?

A) Metaphor
B) Simile
C) Apostrophe
D) Synecdoche

Answer: B) Simile

5. What is the name of the poetic device that uses words that imitate sounds, such as “bleat” and “sing” in stanza 3?

A) Alliteration
B) Assonance
C) Onomatopoeia
D) Rhyme

Answer: C) Onomatopoeia

6. What is the name of the poetic device that repeats the same consonant sound at the beginning of words, such as “mists and mellow” in line 1?

A) Alliteration
B) Assonance
C) Onomatopoeia
D) Rhyme

Answer: A) Alliteration

7. What is the name of the poetic device that repeats the same vowel sound in words, such as “soft-dying” and “rosy” in stanza 3?

A) Alliteration
B) Assonance
C) Onomatopoeia
D) Rhyme

Answer: B) Assonance

8. What is the name of the poetic device that uses words that have similar sounds but not identical, such as “mourn” and “borne” in stanza 3?

A) Slant rhyme
B) Internal rhyme
C) Eye rhyme
D) End rhyme

Answer: A) Slant rhyme

9. What is the name of the poetic device that uses words that rhyme within a line, such as “cease” and “cells” in line 11?

A) Slant rhyme
B) Internal rhyme
C) Eye rhyme
D) End rhyme

Answer: B) Internal rhyme

10. What is the name of the poetic device that uses words that look like they rhyme but do not sound alike, such as “wind” and “find” in stanza 2?

A) Slant rhyme
B) Internal rhyme
C) Eye rhyme
D) End rhyme

Answer: C) Eye rhyme

11. What is the main theme of To Autumn?

A) The beauty and bounty of nature
B) The cycle and change of seasons
C) The contrast between life and death
D) All of the above

Answer: D) All of the above

12. What is the tone of To Autumn?

A) Joyful and celebratory
B) Melancholic and nostalgic
C) Calm and appreciative
D) Angry and rebellious

Answer: C) Calm and appreciative

13. What is the mood of To Autumn?

A) Peaceful and serene
B) Sad and gloomy
C) Excited and energetic
D) Anxious and fearful

Answer: A) Peaceful and serene

14. What is the setting of To Autumn?

A) A city in autumn
B) A forest in autumn
C) A countryside in autumn
D) A beach in autumn

Answer: C) A countryside in autumn

15. What is the speaker’s attitude towards autumn in stanza 1?

A) He admires its productivity and cooperation with the sun
B) He criticizes its laziness and indifference to the sun
C) He envies its richness and warmth from the sun
D) He fears its decay and coldness from the sun

Answer: A) He admires its productivity and cooperation with the sun

16. What is the speaker’s attitude towards autumn in stanza 2?

A) He praises its beauty and grace in various activities
B) He mocks its clumsiness and boredom in various activities
C) He questions its purpose and meaning in various activities
D) He ignores its presence and influence in various activities

Answer: A) He praises its beauty and grace in various activities

17. What is the speaker’s attitude towards autumn in stanza 3?

A) He compares it favorably to spring and its music
B) He contrasts it unfavorably to spring and its music
C) He accepts it as a part of spring and its music
D) He rejects it as a threat to spring and its music

Answer: A) He compares it favorably to spring and its music

18. What is the speaker’s attitude towards winter in To Autumn?

A) He anticipates it eagerly as a new beginning
B) He avoids it carefully as a dangerous enemy
C) He acknowledges it subtly as an inevitable end
D) He denies it completely as a false illusion

Answer: C) He acknowledges it subtly as an inevitable end

19. What is the speaker’s attitude towards himself in To Autumn?

A) He identifies himself with autumn and its qualities
B) He distances himself from autumn and its qualities
C) He observes himself through autumn and its qualities
D) He transforms himself by autumn and its qualities

Answer: C) He observes himself through autumn and its qualities

20. What is the speaker’s attitude towards the reader in To Autumn?

A) He invites the reader to join him in admiring autumn
B) He instructs the reader to follow him in praising autumn
C) He challenges the reader to compete with him in enjoying autumn
D) He ignores the reader and focuses on himself and autumn

Answer: A) He invites the reader to join him in admiring autumn

21. What is the main symbol of To Autumn?

A) The sun as a source of life and energy
B) The fruit as a result of growth and maturity
C) The flowers as a sign of beauty and diversity
D) The bees as a symbol of work and harmony

Answer: B) The fruit as a result of growth and maturity

22. What is the main imagery of To Autumn?

A) Visual imagery that appeals to the sense of sight
B) Auditory imagery that appeals to the sense of hearing
C) Olfactory imagery that appeals to the sense of smell
D) Tactile imagery that appeals to the sense of touch

Answer: A) Visual imagery that appeals to the sense of sight

23. What is the main allusion of To Autumn?

A) The reference to Greek mythology and its gods
B) The reference to Biblical stories and their characters
C) The reference to English history and its events
D) The reference to other poems by Keats and their themes

Answer: D) The reference to other poems by Keats and their themes

24. What is the main paradox of To Autumn?

A) The coexistence of abundance and decay in nature
B) The coexistence of joy and sorrow in human life
C) The coexistence of simplicity and complexity in poetry
D) The coexistence of reality and imagination in art

Answer: A) The coexistence of abundance and decay in nature

25. What is the main message of To Autumn?

A) To appreciate the beauty and value of nature in every season
B) To accept the change and impermanence of life with gratitude
C) To express the feelings and thoughts of the poet with sincerity
D) All of the above

Answer: D)

26. Ode To Autumn is written in …………….

(A) October 1819
(B) September 1819
(C) November 1819
(D) May 1819

Ans- (B) September 1819

27. Ode to Autumn is ……………..

(A) An Epic
(B) An Elegy
(C) An Ode
(D) A Ballad

Ans- (C) An Ode

28. Which has been personified in ode to Autumn?

(A) Spring
(B) Autumn
(C) Winter
(D) Summer 

Ans- (B) Autumn

29. Each stanza of ‘Ode To Autumn’ consists ……………….

(A) 11 lines
(B) 12 lines
(C) 13 lines
(D) 14 lines

Ans- (A) 11 lines

30. Ode to Autumn consists of …………..

(A) Four stanzas
(B) Three stanzas
(C) Five stanzas
(D) Six stanzas 

Ans- (B) Three stanzas

31. Who sits carelessly on the granary floor in ‘Ode to Autumn’?

(A) Old man
(B) Children
(C) Young men
(D) Woman

Ans: (D) Woman

32. Autumn is the season of mists and

(A) Ripe fruitfulness
(B) Mellow fruitfulness
(C) Soft fruitfulness
(D) Juicy fruitfulness

Ans: (B) Mellow fruitfulness

33. The small gnats mourn in a wailful choir

(A) Among the river sallows
(B) Among the river bushes
(C) Among the river willows
(D) Among the river plants

Ans: (A) Among the river sallows

34. Autumn is called the bosom friend of the

(A) Blazing sun
(B) Bright sun
(C) Maturing sun
(D) Gigantic sun

Ans: (C) Maturing sun

35. The reaper felt sleepy with the

(A) fume of daisies
(B) fume of poppies
(C) fume of roses
(D) fume of hyacinths

Ans: (B) fume of poppies

36. The reaper felt sleepy with the

(A) fume of daisies
(B) fume of poppies
(C) fume of roses
((D) fume of hyacinths

Ans:  (B) fume of poppies

37. The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is

(A) Autumn
(B) Winter
(C) Summer
(D) spring

Ans:  A. Autumn

38. What are the two ‘close bosom-friends’ mentioned in Ode to Autumn?

(A) The bees and the flowers
(B) The sun and the autumn season
(C) The autumn season and the bees
(D) The trees and the sun

Ans: The sun and the autumn season

39. Where are the ________ of Springs? Ay, where are they?

(A) sounds
(B) signs
(C) songs
(D) sorrows

Ans: songs

40. In the last stanza, the speaker does NOT hear….

(A) Lambs bleating
(B) Birds whistling
(C) cricket singing
(D) bees buzzing

Ans: (B) Birds whistling

41. Which of the following words would the speaker not use to characterize autumn?

(A) Drowsed
(B) Eager
(D) Careless
(D) Patient

42. Which literary device does Keats frequently use when he refers to autumn?

(A) Metaphor
(B) Metonymy
(C) Simile
(D) Personification

Ans: (D) Personification

43. Which personification of autumn appears in the poem?

(A) an old man
(B) a gardener
(C) an apple picher
(D) a gleaner

Ans: (D) a gleaner

44. Which poetic device does not appear in the poem?

(A) Simile
(B) Metonymy
(C) Onomatopoeia
(D) Personification

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