by John Keats
To Autumn Theme of Man and the Natural World
There's a lot more to say about this poem besides the fact that it's a "nature poem." By itself, the term "nature poem" doesn't tell us much. "To Autumn" contains very specific natural landscapes and images. The first stanza offers images of the interaction between humans and the plants that surround them. The second describes the production of agriculture, a natural process that is controlled by people. The third stanza moves outside of the human perspective to include things that are not used or consumed by humans, such as gnats and swallows. This third section captures some of the "wildness" and unpredictability of nature.
Questions About Man and the Natural World
- Which parts of nature does Keats choose to represent in the poem? Does he devote any attention to the wilderness?
- How are natural events treated like human beings?
- Why is autumn described as "careless" (14) and "patient" (21)?
- How do the last four lines fit with the rest of the poem? Do they contain any "ideas"?
Chew on This
Keats portrays nature as if it were a shortsighted person who focuses only on the present time without care or concern for the future.
Despite several agricultural settings, the poem consciously ignores human beings and their activities.