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Compare and contrast 'To Autumn' and 'Spring', showing how Keats and Hopkins reveal the qualities of the seasons

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Introduction

Compare and contrast 'To Autumn' and 'Spring', showing how Keats and Hopkins reveal the qualities of the seasons. In the two poems 'To Autumn' by Keats and 'Spring' by Hopkins, the qualities of the two seasons are revealed in many different ways. Keats wrote 'To Autumn' on September 19, 1819, half a year before he died. Keats suffered from consumption, and therefore would have known that he was about to die, so it is possible that an element of his poem showing autumn coming to an end, could also be referring to his life coming to an end. Keats was a well known Romantic poet (often inspiring pre-Raphaelite painters) and so his writing contained many appeals to the senses. Hopkins had a love of individuality in his writing, and wrote very lavishly, showing nature as it should be when un-interfered with by man. He wrote his poem, 'Spring', in May 1877, before becoming a Jesuit priest in the summer of the same year. Because Hopkins did not publish his poems, he was able to have his own ideas and didn't have to worry about pleasing people with his poems. The structures of the poems are very similar in some ways. For example, both have very clear stanzas - 'Spring' is made up of two stanzas and 'To Autumn' consists of three equal stanzas. ...read more.

Middle

Also, by saying that the sun is maturing, Keats introduces the idea that autumn is the season in which living things grow older, unlike spring, when everything is fresh and new. Keats continues to personify the sun, also identifying it as a male ('conspiring with him'). The idea of the two conspiring, continues through this stanza. The use of the word 'conspiring' rather than plotting or planning, makes what the sun and autumn are doing sound suspicious - as if they are doing something, but no one knows quite what or how they are doing it, as if it is a secret. Keats first begins twisting the word order in the fourth line, very early on in the poem, where he says 'the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;'. It is a very effective use of twisted word order, because it links to the idea of the vines being twisted themselves. Towards the end of this stanza, Keats is building up the lines, pausing at the end of each. The last few lines talk about what the sun and autumn are doing together - plumping the nut shells, causing flowers to bloom and confusing the bees by making the winter warmer. The second stanza is addressing autumn and opens with the question 'Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?'. ...read more.

Conclusion

The opening line of Hopkins' poem is a statement, 'Nothing is so beautiful as Spring -' and the dash after the sentence leads to a description of why nothing is 'so beautiful as Spring'. Again, similar to Keats, Hopkins begins to use alliteration to create a certain mood from the second line of the poem, where he writes 'weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush'. Both poets use soft letters and long vowel sounds - as well as creating the mood in the poems, these long vowels also cause the reader to slow the words down in order to pronounce them correctly. Hopkins also changes the word order around in his poem, similar to how Keats does in his ode to autumn. Hopkins did not publish his poems and therefore did not have to worry about pleasing anyone. This inspired Hopkins to develop his own poetic methods and famously change the rhythm of sonnets. He created inscape (the individual or essential quality of a thing) and instress (the energy or stress that holds the inscape together). The second stanza of this poem is devoted to asking more philosophical and thoughtful questions about the origins of spring, much like Keats' last verse. He opens the sestet with a question (also like Keats) -'What is all this juice and all this joy?' - which is basically asking where spring comes from. This stanza is much more religious than the first. ...read more.

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