Keats and Autumn

I saw Bright Star yesterday, a very romantic film about Romantic poet John Keats. Liberties may have been taken with the poet’s love life, but the quiet, well shot movie is a beautiful period piece nonethless. Ben Wihshaw certainly looks the part of the 25 year old Romantic poet dying of consumption. There are some gorgeous shots of the English countryside. However the chief virtue of Bright Star must be the way it slowly takes you through some of Keat’s verse.

It skipped the poem that I hoped to hear; his Ode to Autumn being very perfect for this time of year.

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.


6 thoughts on “Keats and Autumn

  1. Look what you’ve done now with your fine post–made me want to read more of his poems AND go see the movie! (By the way, about the film: from Leonard Lopate’s radio show on WNYC-FM, I heard that the star of the film is rather taller than the poet, who was a short fellow. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

  2. Bright Star is one of the best dramas I’ve seen all year! The cast was amazing, and the music haunting. Here’s a great interview I found with Abbie Cornish talking about her character in the film, and how she turned to Keats’ original poetry to answer questions during filming. You can find it here:
    Jane Campion is truly one of the most influential female voices in film today, and I don’t think anyone else could have captured the essence of Keats’ story like her!

  3. oooh I didn’t even know this movie was being made! I’ll have to track it down and go see it! I <3 Keats. I actually went through my old Keats collection this past weekend and was shocked at all the massive notes in the margins from my college lit classes haha

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