Season of mists

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Re-reading Keats and unable to marry the words with the grey and wind torn view,  I  realised autumn has gone over. Too late for the maturing sun and late harvest now.

And then comes a day like today raising hopes of  mellow fruitfulness all over again.


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-eaves 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’erbrimm’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,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd 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 barrèd 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 redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

2 thoughts on “Season of mists

  1. My memory is that Keats wrote this whilst near Winchester in September, so perhaps his sense of fruitful autumn was rather different! I have consulted my resident bee person, who happens also to be a lover of Keats’ poetry. He thinks that the Romantics weren’t very concerned about the specifics of the natural world, just the idea of it! In a good year, his bees forage late into November for the ivy nectar and pollen, which is the last main ‘flow’ before winter sets in; their ‘clammy cells’ are fuller at this time than in August, during which our area suffers about four weeks of poor forage and he has to feed sugar syrup because summer hasn’t been o’er-brimming anything. He says that location is everything – we don’t have many gardens packed with bee-friendly flowers as towns and cities do. The ‘gathering swallows’ also indicate an earlier time, though we have seen a late swallow heading south at Spurn Point on the Humber in late November. Don’t know if it made it! The south of England near Winchester (not far from where J. grew up) is a very lush part of the world, with a much richer autumn scene than we get here; it’s very bleak now! But we both love this poem, which is so beautifully evocative of the pastoral scene and also hauntingly elegiac in tone.

  2. I loved your answer, so much fuller than my cryptic sentence. It was a surprise to find that bees liked ivy, something i only discovered latterly ( too much town dwelling obviously) not such a surprise to find your resident bee person is a lover of Keats. (a romantic)
    Ode to autumn still makes me think of ageing, almost a cliched comparison i know.

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