In this installment, Elise Paschen reads “To Autumn” by John Keats. Paschen is the author of Infidelities, winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, and of Houses: Coasts. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and Shenandoah, among other magazines, and in numerous anthologies, including Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry; The POETRY Anthology, 1912-2002; Reinventing the Enemy’s Language: Contemporary Native Women’s Writings of North America; and A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women. Former Director of the Poetry Society of America, she is the co-founder of “Poetry in Motion,” a nation-wide program which places poetry posters in subways and buses. Co-editor of Poetry in Motion, Poetry in Motion from Coast to Coast, and Poetry Speaks, she teaches in the Writing Program at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Learn more about Paschen’s work here.
John Keats, “To Autumn”
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-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d 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’er-brimm’d 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-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d 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 cyder-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 red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.