As one can see, Keats creates the first four lines of each stanza equally. After that, he changes the scheme. Furthermore in line 15, third stanza, the word “wind” has to be pronounced differently so that it rhymes with the word “find” two lines earlier. All these little disharmonies create a certain atmosphere through the poem. In the beginning the speaker describes autumn as the “season of mists” which slowly builds up the melancholic atmosphere. This atmosphere continues through the whole ode. One can’t read this ode without creating certain images.
For example, there’s the wonderful sun of autumn which helps the flowers to grow again so that the bees can continue their work (“And still more, later flowers for the bees”). By that Keats expresses the importance of autumn for the whole nature and the process of certain goods. So the speaker clearly glorifies autumn. In the second stanza it becomes even clearer. In the second stanza the speaker describes autumn as a goddess (“Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind” l. 15) who came to the land to guard the processes on earth.
Again, because the speaker personalises autumn, there’s a certain magic which makes this ode so powerful and yet so melancholic. It seems as if the time stands still while the speaker tells us about the beauty of the goddess autumn. This shows the authors passion and intelligence to use exactly the right words so that he creates this unique atmosphere. Why does he describe autumn as a goddess and not as a mighty god? Maybe he wants to show the fragility of this beautiful season which is so underrated by many people. By describing autumn as a female god, the speaker underlines the aspect of romanticism and beauty.
Even if autumn is not really interacting, the speaker can obviously feel the season’s power and aura so that he’s able to describe the “goddess autumn”. Autumn only watches over everything without interaction (“Thou watches the last oozings hours by hours” l. 22). In the third stanza, the speaker even raises the importance and strength of autumn. At the beginning of the third stanza, the speaker says that we can easily forget the sound of spring because autumn creates its own music. In this stanza, an important signification occurs: The nightingale and the swallows. The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the sky. Again, Keats uses the nightingale as in his other ode, “Ode to a Nightingale”, to create a certain mood. The nightingale and the swallows who gather and disappear in the sky can be seen as a metaphor of humanity. Again, Keats discusses the themes of mortality, change and temporality. Even the themes of mythology and normal life appear by understanding the swallows as a metaphor of humanity. While nature and its beauty will always be there and will always have great power, the human being is not immortal and thus humanity will disappear one day.
By describing autumn as a goddess, Keats even reinforces the idea of an immortal nature. A goddess clearly can’t die and therefore autumn will always be there. Plus, autumn is describes as a source of creativity; when autumn’s over, the whole scenery is going to change. The flowers won’t flourish anymore, the trees will lose their leaves and thereby their colour. Maybe we can even see the gathering of the swallows as a fear. Humanity fears nature with all its might and strength. To pick up the aspect of change and temporality, the swallows can also be seen as a symbol of change and disappearance.
That means, autumn will be gone pretty soon and winter’s coming. Plus, the speakers describes a day that is dying and ending. (“While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day” l. 25). As we can see, the ode really leaves much space for interpretations. Plus, this line is the most impressive of the whole ode. It leaves us nearly speechless but meditative. Will everything be gone one day and what if we won’t leave any traces behind? On the other hand, it even creates to me personally an image of helplessness because we can’t do nothing against the process of nature. We can’t stop the sun from going down or autumn from changing into winter.
That reveals to me the vacuity of humanity compared to the whole universe and nature aspect. It is pretty impressive that Keats creates so many different emotions and thoughts by writing one ode. Even in one line he puts so many expressions and feelings that one could easily discuss the meaning of a certain word for a long term. Obviously, the speaker tries to create a certain atmosphere and a certain image of autumn which he again (like in “Ode to a nightingale”), puts indirectly in contrast with the mortality of humanity. Thus, he produces this strong melancholic feeling which leaves us contemplative.