Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ode to Autumn, by John Keats

John Keats needs no image support for his poem to autumn. I revel in his lines, the hair of autumn soft-lifted by the winnowing wind, as beautiful as any written anywhere. Nothing needs to be said, and my photos aren't necessary. But I also overflow with love for autumn, in Michigan. The images I share below the poem are from previous years, some here at the farm, some on my drive to work, and some at the lake where my family has a cottage. Wherever you are, I hope you enjoy the onset of autumn today (even if in Australia and New Zealand, and you are in spring!).

Ode 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-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed 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'erbrimmed 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-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed 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 cider-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 redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

~ John Keats, from Endymion


Lorenzo said...

The photos are no less magical than the Keats. I recently saw the film 'Bright Star' about Keats and his beloved Fanny, so was even more in the mood for all things Keats and this ode to Autumn is perfect.

Even here in Spain, where it still feels like summer, your post today has brought me a whiff of upturned earth and fallen leaves on a drizzly Autumn day.

João said...

beautiful country, lucky woman...I especialy like "later flowers for the bees"

Marcie said...

It is the most beautiful time of year..and your images do it proud!!! The most perfect poem to accompany this change in seasons!

Ruth said...

Lorenzo, thank you so much. Oh, I loved "Bright Star" and would like to watch it again, to relive their touching story. I can't get through autumn without thinking about Keats. I hope it's not too hot in Spain today. You've mentioned before that you miss autumn in the States. I hope you can experience it again soon.

Ruth said...

Thank you, João. By the way, at the apple orchard in the apple photos where Inge and I went last year, there were bees swarming around the rotting apples on the ground.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Marcie. I know you love autumn too.

*jean* said...

aahh....i raise my steaming mug to you today, ruth, you have perfectly captured the crisp in the air...

Claudia said...

Gorgeous post.

George said...

Lovely, Ruth! You and Keats make a fine couple with your images nicely illustrating his poem. I especially like the sixth photo of the cornstalks, field, and clouds. It reminds me of one of those 19th century French landscape paintings, perhaps a Courbet. All I need is a young peasant woman working in the foreground.

I also love those mist-covered scenes of woods and waterfowl.


willow said...

Glorious fall photos, Ruth. My favorites are those with the foggy-foggy-dew. We have a wonderful fall fog that rolls in off the Scioto River, usually in October. It's one of my personal fall delights.

Ruth said...

Jean, bless you and your steaming mug! Please get well soon. Thank you for visiting "virtually" when you're sick with the crud.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Claudia. It's so great to have you back.

Ruth said...

Thank you, George, so much. Oh wonderful Courbet. Warm and inviting. Yes it's funny you would mention wanting a peasant woman, because as I gathered these photos from my archives, I especially wished I had a person or two in them, which always adds to a photo. Not that you were saying anything like I was thinking. But I am conscious now about how many photos I have of only landscapes and nature without people, and I think they are so much better with people, like Claudia's a couple days ago with autumn trees and two people walking. Thank you for your always welcome praise.

Ruth said...

willow, it sounds beautiful as you describe it. Living near water is something I would love to do. Ha, well I'm surrounded by Great Lakes, but I don't seem to get to them very often, sadly. Thank you for your kind comment.

rauf said...

i have to be thankful to Keats Ruth. Because of him now i know that evil thoughts emerge out of our spleen.

would you marry me ? i have brought a diamond ring for you

Did you have your spleen removed ?

not yet my love.

go get it removed from Doctor John Keats and get his certificate that he has removed your spleen. Then i'll consider marrying you.

Just imagine the impact on the British politics Ruth.

David Cameron says look look Tony Blair still has his spleen intact. I had it removed two years ago i am a better candidate for the prime ministership. Here's my doctor's certificate saying that i am spleenless and i am not capable of any evil actions

Cameron is a liar says Gordon Brown. he got a fake certificate look at my certificate, i have no spleen no liver no heart and no brain. i am the best candidate England could ever have. Vote for me. Remember i am spleenless and spineless. i am the best.

Your pictures of autumn are as beautiful as Emotions and imagination of Keats Ruth.

Char said...

shots as beautiful as poetry. i long for autumn to come to the deep south. i yearn for the cool breezes and the crisp feel of leaves beneath my feet.

Ruth said...

Oh and George, I also think of your C2C trek, with the glorious English countryside, and trekkers! How wonderful each of your photos is. I do love the ones without people too though. Especially the stone cottage (if I remember right) with the laundry.

ellen abbott said...

beautiful images Ruth.

signed...bkm said...

Oh...pure loveliness...Keats and coffee in the morning...what way to bring the first day of Autumn....bkm

Cusp said...

Thank you for the poem and the beautiful images. I love the autumn.

I'm supposed to be distantly related to Keats: my paternal grandmother's maiden name. Sadly I don't seem to have been blessed with his gift for words.

Beautiful warm autumn here in UK...almost what we call an Indian Summer

Gwei Mui said...

What glorious colours and what abundance of produce. Ths saddens me slightly as the schools no longer observer The Harvest Festival.

Trulyfool said...


These are beautiful images. Glad I found your blog.


California Girl said...

Yes, it's Fall in New England as well. When I say that I mean things are turning. I saw a flock of geese fly over me as I drove to work this morning. They were in a V, flying low; maybe 7 or 8 of them. So beautiful. I saw one burnished tree among the many still green ones. It stood alone and beautiful in someone's yard. The night is crisp now with that snap one only feels in the Fall.

You inspire me. Thank you.

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

Ruth said...

rauf, hehehe, here is the letter:

Is it not extraordinary? When among Men I have no evil thoughts, no malice, no spleen — I can listen and from every one I can learn — my hands are in my pockets I am free from all suspicion and comfortable.

When I am among Women I have evil thoughts, malice, spleen — I cannot speak or be silent — I am full of Suspicions and therefore listen to no thing — I am in a hurry to be gone —You must be charitable and put all this perversity to my being disappointed since Boyhood – ….I must absolutely get over this, — but how?

The only way is to find the root of the evil, and so cure it.’

You should be a stand-up comic, rauf. Thank you for making me laugh (as always)!

Ruth said...

Char, what a hot summer, even here, and I know it's been way hotter down there. I hope you will have autumn in a few weeks.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Ellen.

Ruth said...

Hi, bkm, it's a celebration. And I think Keats and coffee in the morning sounds like a good name for a blog. :)

Ruth said...

Cusp, cool!

Keats had more than a gift of words. He had a gentle and sensitive spirit, a way of being in the world that has beautified it, and appreciated beauty, in such a short life. Enjoy your Indian Summer. I didn't know you called them that over there too.

Ruth said...

Gwei Mui, Don does a terrific job growing our vegetables and fruit trees.

I don't think we've had harvest festivals in our schools as long as I've been around. I didn't know you had them in the UK. It's an important and lovely tradition, which teaches kids a lot. Now, with every food available year round, we don't have a sense of the seasons, or survival, like people used to.

Pauline said...

SPLENDID from start to finish!

Ruth said...

Well thanks a lot, Paul, I mean Truly Fool. :)

Ruth said...

California Girl, don't you love hearing the geese (or sand hill cranes) coming? I try to locate them in the sky and get my direction wrong. As for the turning leaves, I've heard two terms for what New Yorkers/New Englanders do when they want to go see the autumn color: 1) leafing; and 2) leaf peeping.

Thank you for your kind words. And Happy Autumnal Equinox to you!

Ruth said...

Pauline, I thank you, and it must be that you love autumn as I do.

dirt clustit said...

Perfectly in synch with what I saw in today's print.

"I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like silence,listening
To silence."

-Thomas Hood, English author b1799 d1845

(foloyell to verify)

Vagabonde said...

Lovely lovely pictures, Ruth, they are quite good. I can see Fall in your locale – a new season in the horizon – your photos make me dream…

Oliag said...

Happy Autumn Ruth! What a nice way to celebrate the first day of the season with Keats and your gorgeous photos:) Here in my yard the leaves are falling already...but from lack of rain! I'm worried that there will be less color than usual because of this:(

Ruth said...

Dusti, . . .

for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,

In fact, it's so beautiful, I'm going to post the whole poem. (And I know you like long comments, so . . . ) :)

by Thomas Hood

I SAW old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like Silence, listening
To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn;--
Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright
With tangled gossamer that fell by night,
Pearling his coronet of golden corn.

Where are the songs of Summer?--With the sun,
Oping the dusky eyelids of the south,
Till shade and silence waken up as one,
And Morning sings with a warm odorous mouth.
Where are the merry birds?--Away, away,
On panting wings through the inclement skies,
Lest owls should prey
Undazzled at noonday,
And tear with horny beak their lustrous eyes.

Where are the blooms of Summer?--In the west,
Blushing their last to the last sunny hours,
When the mild Eve by sudden Night is prest
Like tearful Proserpine, snatch'd from her flow'rs
To a most gloomy breast.
Where is the pride of Summer,--the green prime,--
The many, many leaves all twinkling?--Three
On the moss'd elm; three on the naked lime
Trembling,--and one upon the old oak-tree!
Where is the Dryad's immortality?--
Gone into mournful cypress and dark yew,
Or wearing the long gloomy Winter through
In the smooth holly's green eternity.

The squirrel gloats on his accomplish'd hoard,
The ants have brimm'd their garners with ripe grain,
And honey bees have stored
The sweets of Summer in their luscious cells;
The swallows all have wing'd across the main;
But here the Autumn melancholy dwells,
And sighs her tearful spells
Amongst the sunless shadows of the plain.
Alone, alone,
Upon a mossy stone,
She sits and reckons up the dead and gone
With the last leaves for a love-rosary,
Whilst all the wither'd world looks drearily,
Like a dim picture of the drowned past
In the hush'd mind's mysterious far away,
Doubtful what ghostly thing will steal the last
Into that distance, gray upon the gray.

O go and sit with her, and be o'ershaded
Under the languid downfall of her hair:
She wears a coronal of flowers faded
Upon her forehead, and a face of care;--
There is enough of wither'd everywhere
To make her bower,--and enough of gloom;
There is enough of sadness to invite,
If only for the rose that died, whose doom
Is Beauty's,--she that with the living bloom
Of conscious cheeks most beautifies the light:
There is enough of sorrowing, and quite
Enough of bitter fruits the earth doth bear,--
Enough of chilly droppings for her bowl;
Enough of fear and shadowy despair,
To frame her cloudy prison for the soul!

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, I know you can only dream of autumn now, so hot it is in Atlanta. May things cool down soon.

Ruth said...

Oliag, I've seen that happen here too, but not this year. We have had a lot of rain, though we did go without it for a few weeks. Nothing got brown around us, something I don't remember any other year.

I hope you will still get a lot of color, something you must look forward to in New England, so you can go leafing or leaf peeping. :)

Sheila said...

Ruth - I'm so pleased that Bonnie introduced her readers to you this morning. your photos remind me of the misty morning I see outside my windows on my farm today.

dirt clustit said...

Like is not an appropriate word... I ineffably love said size of comments!

Pat said...

Gosh those photos are stunning!

Ginnie said...

THIS is why I love Autumn, Ruth. Your images transport me back to earlier years when I lived with the change of seasons...long before California and Georgia. It's good to be back in a clime where the seasons are 'real' again. I've needed that. If you can help it, I know you will plan to stay there, year after year.

Ruth said...

Hello, Sheila, it's nice of you to visit from Bonnie's generous interview, thank you. I'm glad that you get to see this kind of world every morning too. wish everyone could.

Ruth said...

Dusti, I ineffably love the word ineffably.

Ruth said...

Pat, thank you. Michigan is a gorgeous place. I wonder if you and your husband have travelled through here.

Ruth said...

Boots, from what Vagabonde, Pamela and others tell me, Atlanta has been something else this year, still in the thick of the heat. We look forward to seeing Amy & Dennis tomorrow! I'm sure they'll enjoy the cool of autumn, although we have had quite an Indian summer the last couple of days.

Christina said...

i love each inch of this post, with all my heart.
hello friend.
: )

neighbor said...


well, no wonder everyone on Bonnie's blog was exclaiming over your photos! They are lovely and I wouldn't worry a bit about the manual settings!

Funny, I thought for a moment that your comment box had some clever little ability to know my blogger name (maybe it does?), which I picked so I could be randomly greeted with, "Hello, Neighbor!" at unexpected intervals by those who like the phrase too :-).

So, "hello, neighbor" back to you,

Terresa said...

Breathtaking pictures. We are not feeling fall in the least here, in fact, I was helping at my kid's school today and heard one of the kids tell their teacher it was "chilly" today. Yeah, at 95 degrees, when it's considered chilly, you Know you live in the desert.


Ruth said...

Hello, dear Christina, beautiful friend. Thank you.


Ruth said...

Neighbor! Well I never knew that I would literally be greeting you with my comment welcome. Yay!

Thank you for your kindness about the photos. I might not worry about manual settings for some time. Who knows?

Your collage of George's gorgeous images was a sweet and creative way to highlight his gallery of images, just wonderful.

Ruth said...

Terresa, you must be sapped. And I won't even mention that it's a dry heat. :|

elizabeth said...

Your stunning images really capture the spirit of Keats' deeply moving poem.
They are so very beautiful.

The last quotation breaks my heart.

Ruth said...

I know, Elizabeth, what a precious soul he was. His tenderness keeps on its softening work, in me.

Kathleen said...

Keats! Maybe I shall invite him to escort me to Willow's Ball! Thank you Ruth! (Here by way of Bonnie's masterful interview and your delightful responses!)

Ruth said...

Kathleen, now he is an excellent inspiration for an escort to the Willow Ball. So sensitive and full of the best kind of romance.

Thank you very much for stopping by after Bonnie's fine interview and for your kind comment.

Jeanie said...

Oh, the light and color of autumn. How flawlessly you capture them in your lens. Really, have you put your photos in a Shutterfly book? You'd be thrilled with the reproduction and then you could look at them all the time!