‘To Autumn’ by John Keats and ‘Blackberry Picking’ by Seamus Heaney are at a glance are just vaguely similar, being poems about nature, but when you look deeper into the meanings behind the poems there are many intricate similarities, that shine through. The titles for both of these poems are both very mundane, which strikes odd to me because poems almost always have meanings in their title. It seems to me like they were almost trying to hide these poems under the mundane and boring.
These poems are filled with references to the authors’ childhoods such as “thee sitting careless on the granary floor” and “sent us out with milk-cans…” showing how favourably the authors remember their youth. ‘To Autumn’ is entirely about the lazy days after the harvest and seeding. When there was no more work to do and a child could just have fun and enjoy himself. In contrast ‘blackberry is a time where the children are working industriously to harvest the berries. In the first two paragraphs Keats describes autumn, giving it a personality and a form that is a “close bosom-friend of the maturing sun” and swells gourds.
Then he speaks of autumn as a sort of carefree, slightly lazy spirit which sits on the granary floor and watches apples being pressed for hours on end. Heaney does not really use the personification but his first paragraph is still full of descriptive language. Heaney speaks of the wet grass bleaching boots, “glossy purple clots” and dark blackberries looking like a “plateful of eyes”. The imagery of the plateful of eyes and the idea of Autumn being a person both reflect a childlike imagination. In the last paragraph we hear Autumn ask Keats “where are the songs of spring? he responds by telling her to not worry about the “songs of spring” because he realises that Autumn must end eventually and she must enjoy herself why she is here. This message is reinforced with references to the “soft-dying day” and lambs being fully grown, ready for the cold of winter. Similar to this Heaney also speaks of things having to end, albeit in a more graphic and less flowing way. Once the children had “hoarded the fresh berries” they soon found a “rat- grey fungus” on them. Their happiness turns to horror and they realise that things must end even when the make us happy.
Heaney finishes by informing us that he always “hoped they’d keep”, but at the same time knew that they would rot. This once again speaks of the fact that everything has an ending whether we like it or not. Keats finishes in a similar way with “gathering swallows” twittering in the skies, gathering for their winter migration as Autumn is ending, and we think of the fondness that Keats spoke of Autumn but he knows it must end. These poems share that message of finality of all things, and that we must accept it. Word Count – 492