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John Keats was born in London on 31 October 1795. Although he died at the age of twenty-five, Keats had perhaps the most remarkable career of any English poet. He published only fifty-four poems, in three slim volumes and a few magazines. But over his short development he took on the challenges of a wide range of poetic forms from the sonnet, to the Spenserian romance, to the Miltonic epic, defining anew their possibilities with his own distinctive fusion of earnest energy, control of conflicting perspectives and forces, poetic self-consciousness, and, occasionally, dry ironic wit.

TO AUTUMN (1820) by John Keats.

  • It is an ode divided into three, eleven-line stanzas.

  • An ode is a lyric poem, usually with a varied rhythm.

  • Odes are addressed to a person or object who can’t respond.

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.


It’s the attribution of human characteristics to something non-human. Complete the following sentences using personification:

  1. The tree S_____________ in the wind

  2. The leaves D_____________ in the wind

  3. The birds S_______________ a sweet tune

Find examples of personification within the first and the second stanza.

What has been personified?

1) Which words suggest they have an intimate relationship?

2) Which word suggests regrowth?

3) Which word has religious connotations?

4) By personifying nature, what does this suggest about Keats as a poet?

Keats was a romantic poet. What were such poets interested in, and how is this theme explored within the poem?

LEAVES THAT ARE GREEN (1966) by Simon & Garfunkel

I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song

I'm twenty-two now, but I won't be for long

Time hurries on

And the leaves that are green turn to brown

And they wither with the __________

And they crumble in your __________

Once my heart was filled with the love of a __________

I held her close, but she faded in the __________

Like a poem I meant to __________

And the leaves that are green turn to brown

And they wither with the __________

And they crumble in your __________

I threw a pebble in a brook

And watched the ripples run away

And they never made a __________

And the leaves that are green turn to brown

And they wither with the wind

And they crumble in your hand

Hello, hello, hello, hello

Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye

That's all there is

And the leaves that are green turn to brown

AUTUMN LEAVES - Version by Nat King Cole

The falling leaves drift by the __________

The autumn leaves of red and __________

I see your lips, the summer __________

The sun-burned hands I used to __________

Since you went away the days grow long

And soon I'll hear old winter's song

But I miss you most of all my darling

When autumn leaves start to fall

Since you went away the days grow long

And soon I'll hear old winter's song

But I miss you most of all my darling

When autumn leaves start to fall

The Brontë sisters ARE:

  • Charlotte (1816-1855).

  • Emily(1818-1848).

  • Anne ( 1820-1849).

They wrote at the beginning of the 19th century, coinciding with the development of the Victorian Novel and the final moments of the Romantic period. Some of their more famous novels include:

  1. Find a synonym in the text:

    1. guides - _________________________

    2. fading (n) - _______________________

    3. delight - _________________________

    4. crown - __________________________

    5. more tiresome - ___________________

    6. flapping - ________________________

2. Match the following literary devices with the text:

  1. Every leaf speaks bliss to me ___________________

  2. Fall, leaves, fall ________________________

  3. Lengthen night and shorten day ____________________

  4. wreaths of snow _______________________

  5. falling leaves / rose _____________________

  6. I shall sing when night’s decay - Ushers in a drearier day ______________________

WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1978) by Kate Bush

Emily Brontë, who wrote the novel Wuthering Heights, and Kate Bush, who wrote the song Wuthering Heights, share a birthday: they were born on 30 July in, respectively, 1818 and 1958.

It’s the first song written and performed by a female artist to top the UK singles charts. The lyrics to Kate Bush’s song bear the influence of Emily Brontë’s novel and Kate Bush’s song tell of the tempestuous and doomed love affair (or affair of passion) between Catherine, or ‘Cathy’, and Heathcliff, among the wild and rugged moors of Yorkshire. Theirs is a wild relationship, too, and Catherine ends up marrying someone else, Edgar, when she and Heathcliff grow distant. But then – spoiler alert! – Heathcliff runs away and comes back as a successful gentleman. Catherine falls ill following an argument with Edgar and later dies. Heathcliff dies some years later, having seen visions of Catherine.

Adopting the persona of ‘Cathy’ (usually referred to as Catherine in the book), Kate Bush sings about the times she and Heathcliff spent frolicking on the moors together, among the elements.

Theirs is a love-hate relationship.

Heathcliff ran off so Catherine was unable to ‘possess’ him, which tells you a lot about the kind of relationship they had: one founded on primal ideas of possession and control rather than tender love.

The bridge between verse and chorus alludes to Catherine’s illness before she died: ‘losing the fight’ means losing the fight for her life, the fight against the illness that ravaged her. Indeed, Catherine dies shortly after giving birth to her (and Edgar’s) child, a daughter, who is named ‘Cathy’.

If ‘Wuthering Heights’ is a love song, it is also a ghost story – much like Emily Brontë’s original novel.

Riccardo Zambon, 4 November 2023

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