This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Richness Of Old Age: A New Critical Reading Of &Quot;To Autumn&Quot;

1431 words - 6 pages

"Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too." So often, people look back upon their youth and wish that they still had it before them. Our natural tendency is to fear old age, to see it as the precursor to death, rather than a time of life, desirable in its own right. However, in John Keats' poem, To Autumn, he urges us not to take this view, but to see old age as a beautiful and enviable state of life, rather than something to be feared.

First of all, it must be established that Keats is even speaking about old age. After all, he does not directly refer to it in the poem. Therefore, if he is speaking about it at all, it must be indirectly, through the use of metaphor, and indeed, one sees that this is the case. The poem refers to autumn as being a "season of mists" (1) which would indicate a time of faded perception, which old age tends to bring. The senses begin to fail as the body gets older. The line adds that this season also includes "mellow fruitfulness" (1). One aspect of the word "mellow" involves sweetness and ripeness, but it also implies the gentleness often associated with maturity, both of which would refer to an aged condition, as both ripeness and maturity only come through

age. The poem later personifies Autumn as "sitting careless on a granary floor" (14). Granaries hold grain that has already been harvested and threshed. It is in the last phase of its existence before its "death" by consumption. Likewise, old age is the last phase of human existence. Also, a common characteristic of old age is baldness. In the poem, autumn's hair is "soft-lifted by the winnowing wind" (15). To winnow something to is eliminate the unnecessary parts, like chaff from grain. For hair to be "winnowed" would involve removal of part of it, down to the bare essentials. This too, is suggestive of aging. The poem also contrasts autumn with the season of spring. But the poem instructs autumn to "think not" of the "songs of Spring", for "thou hast thy own music too" (23-24). Spring is a season of birth, of new life and vigor, in which life turns inward, and is in the budding stage. Thus contrasted with spring, one should see autumn as representing a winding down of life. It is the season before the doom of winter, and after the opulent, blossomed fullness of summer. Two other word choices point to autumn being a metaphor for old age. Keats calls the days of autumn "soft-dying" (25), and refers to the "stubble plains", referring to leftover fields of hay or grain after harvest. Autumn is a time of gradual dying, when the majority of one's life is over.

Once one understands autumn to be a symbol for old age, one can then look at the rest of the poem to see what Keats actually says about it. To begin with, he uses rich imagery throughout the poem and points to many positive aspects of old age.

First, there are several images that suggest abundance and fullness. The "mossed cottage-trees"...

Find Another Essay On The Richness of Old Age: a New Critical Reading of "to Autumn"

A Summary of "The Perils of Obedience"

691 words - 3 pages In "The Perils of Obedience," Stanley Milgram conducted a study that tests the conflict between obedience to authority and one's own conscience. Through the experiments, Milgram discovered that the majority of people would go against their own decisions of right and wrong to appease the requests of an authority figure. The study was set up as a "blind experiment" to capture if and when a person will stop inflicting pain on another as they

A Feminist Study of "The Dead"

1141 words - 5 pages strained circumstances. This difficult situation is probably caused by his failure to deal with the relationship with the female characters. Many events happen in the story prove that he can not get a real freedom until he understands the value of woman to improve the mutual relationship. The female characters are from various social classes and each of them has her own attitudes towards life and love. Lily, the caretaker's daughter is the first

A Structuralist View of "Macbeth"

3565 words - 14 pages moving description of life in a "police state": ... Each new morn New widows howl; new orphans cry; new sorrows Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds As if it felt with Scotland, and yell'd out Like syllable of dolour. In order to secure his position, Macbeth has managed to slaughter everyone who seems to threats him. After he is crowned as Duncan's successor to the throne, Macbeth is determined to get rid of both Banquo

Summary of the Ballet "Giselle"

772 words - 3 pages "Giselle" is a romantic ballet choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot. Adolphe Adam beautifully composes the music. This ballet was originally performed in Paris in 1841. The production that we viewed in class was from La Salla. "Giselle" is one of the last ballets of the Romantic era. The element that stood out the most to me was how effectively the music and the footwork corresponded. The best examples of this are seen through

A Close Ananlysis of "Daddy" and "Zonnebeke Road"

1885 words - 8 pages life. This poem, to me, was written by a very hurt, confused and almost disturbed person and provoked a feeling in me which I very rarely feel through reading a poem. The two poems I have analysed here are, as I said in the opening of my essay, both about personal experiences of the authors. I felt that maybe Edmund Blunden was slightly more reserved with his feelings when writing "Zonnebeke Road" but concentrated on creating vivid images to put

Characterization of "Lysistrata"

834 words - 3 pages other than directing orders. Also, due to her apparent lack of sexual desire, Lysistrata is given more respect by the men of Athens. The play's actions, characters and Lysistrata's actions all indicate her demonstration of a bold leader, unrepresentative of a traditional Athenian woman. Works Cited Aristrophanes. "Lysistrata." The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Maynard, Mack. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1997. 466-469.

Effective Settings in "A Pair of Tickets"

1306 words - 5 pages , eager to see what develops." Symbolic setting is a technique which Amy Tan use to help reader more understanding, or even with Jing-Mei. "I can feel the skin on my forehead tingling, my blood rushing through a new course, my bones aching with a familiar old pain. And I think, my mother was right. I am becoming Chinese." In conclusion, this journey of Jing-Mei and her father seems as a spiritual journey. The action from

Greg Crister's "Too Much of a Good Thing"

1288 words - 5 pages more than a simple solution for a very complex problem that plaques the world today. For example, stigmatization may increase the likelihood that children may become more obese from the pressure exerted from stigmatization. There are also many genetic factors that may play a role in obesity in children. Altogether, Crister's proposal would help to partially solve the problem with childhood obesity, but it is not suitable for a complete solution (461-63). Works Cited Crister, Greg. "Too much of a Good Thing." Writing and Reading across the Curriculum. Eds. Laurence Behrens and Leonard F. Rosen. New York: Longman, 2003. 461-63.

"Bitter Strength: A History of the Chinese in the United States"

1165 words - 5 pages constant return on their investment in the indentured emigrants. The sojourners' domiant concern in their new environment was survival, not liberty. "Bitter strength," the literal translation of the Chinese term "k'uli" for these laborers, suggests the dimensions of the sojourners' experience." (Barth 3) Barth point of view is very broad, which I think is very good for a book like this. Barth writes very well and is an easy reading. He points out

Georg Lukacs, "the Ideology of Modernism"

9742 words - 39 pages modernism: "The individual, retreating into himself in despair at the cruelty of the [capitalist] age, may experience an intoxicated fascination with his forlorn condition. But then a new horror breaks through. If reality cannot be understood (or no effort is made to understand it [along Marxist lines]), then the individual's subjectivity -- alone in the universe, reflecting only itself -- takes on an equally incomprehensible and horrific character

"Sylvia Plath- Feminine Side of the Feminist Icon"

2123 words - 8 pages argue whether it was her conscious choice and to what extend it was the result of her times. During the fifties woman who did not feel that her life as a housewife could be satisfactory and fulfilling was considered strange. At the end of the fifties the average age of marriage had actually fallen to 20. It was usual for girls to quit colleges or high schools and get married. Furthermore, education was treated as a bar to marriage. During

Similar Essays

&Quot;The Pardon By Richard Wilbur, A Critical Reading&Quot;

982 words - 4 pages , discovery and development and finally, the poem harks back to the poet's experience in World War II and his eventual coming to terms with his experiences there. Wilbur has been placed within the New Formalist movement and the poem itself is written in a very formal structure: four line stanzas rhymed ABBA. Some of the rhymes are full and some are slightly off, e.g. (smell : still), (grave : alive). This has the effect of making the poem sound

Critical Analysis Of Alice Walkers &Quot;Everyday Use&Quot;

653 words - 3 pages Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," tells a story about a young woman, Dee, returning home to visit her mother and sister. What should be a happy reunion starts out as a humiliating experience for the mother and little sister, Maggie. Dee has embarked on a new life that does not include Maggie and her Mother; indeed, Dee is full of new ideas that conflict with her family's more traditional lifestyle. Dee has even managed to change her name

Symbolism In &Quot;A New England Nun&Quot;

808 words - 3 pages mother was also seen as dominated by a man, but then stood up to him at the end. This possibly rules out Freeman's intention of oppressing women in her story because in the aforementioned stories, the women have both pushed through what society says they should be like. In "Revolt of Mother," the mother stands up to her husband by moving to another house, while in "A New England Nun," Louisa stands up to society by being an older single woman

Analysis Of Jack London's &Quot;To Build A Fire&Quot;

823 words - 3 pages early in the story to set a foreboding feeling: "Day had broken cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray, when the man turned aside from the main Yukon trail and climbed the high earth-bank, where a dim and little traveled trail led eastward through the fat spruce timberland." (London) It is this feeling of doom and gloom that accompanies us throughout the reading of the story, and also is typical of the wonderful language of the story. With this