Writing Like Keats (Shara Lessley)

 

Imaginative Preparation:

 

1. Think about your favorite month of the year.

2. Think of the music you associate with this time of the year. (A poem is nothing more than a Musical Score until it is read out loud.)

3. What images do you associate with this month?

Keats' "This Living Hand"

1.      Deal quickly with the Story of the Poem: what is the situation?

2.      Use colors to analyze the music of "This Living Hand": rhythm, sentence structure, antithesis, rhymes and echoes within lines, slant rhymes: assonance (similar vowel sounds) and consonance (similar consonant sounds).

3.      Note how sounds are connected to the tension of ideas in the poem. (antithesis)

4.      Note how different word families grow into sound systems in the poem. (complete)

Poem About a Month of the Year

1.      Write a poem about what you like about your favorite month of the year. Please show, not tell.  Keep your hand moving. Don't think; just write.

2.      Go around the room and tell us your month and your mood music for that month. Describe a couple of images you associate with your month.

Keats' "To Autumn".

  1. The Poem's Genesis:

Confronted with a possible jail sentence because of debt, Keatsí brother needs money. Keats' other brother has just died of consumption, and he is being mourned. Keats has also had a sore throat recently and has coughed up some blood. He now knows he has tuberculosis. He is estranged from his sister with whom he has had an ambiguous relationship. He is secretly engaged to a woman whom he cannot afford to marry. It is September: he has been going on long walks, and on one walk, he arrives at a transformation.

By October, he will be describing his life as a posthumous existence. In a year it will all be over.

He walks the walk, comes home, and writes this poem.

     2.   Genre:

An Ode: a poem dedicated to an object or person; usually in praise; vs.

An Elegy: a poem written for someone or something that has died.

     3.   Listen to the first verse and listen for the sounds:

     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.

Identify the different types of sounds: s-sounds, m-sounds, vowel sounds, consonance and assonance

repeated words: fruit, to bend, to swell, to the core, to set:

things are getting filled to capacity

      4. Listen again to the 1st stanza (stanza means room in Italian) and think about
          what you see:

 

     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.

 

    

What do you see?

       5. Listen to the 2nd stanza and see if you can both listen and see simultaneously:

   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.
 

What do you hear and see?

 

      6. 3rd Stanza: Night has come on: more rhyming is going on. 

              What are the hot spots in the stanza?

 

   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.

 

        7.  With poetry, go through and get the basic plot of the poem down and then go     
        back and look at how the poem is made from the inside out: sound, construction,
        rhythm.

 

Rhythm: 

"To Autumn" is a formal poem with a regular meter and rhyme scheme, as opposed to a free verse. There is a regular, walking meter to it.

 

        8. Form:

 

Plot

Emotion

Tone

Morning

Narrative

Recognition (ripeness)

Afternoon

Song

Celebration (harvest)

Evening

Elegy

Exhaustion (emptiness)

 

        9. Now pay attention to the first two sentences in "To Autumn":

 

 #1

"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."

 

Emotional urgency creates run-on sentence fragment. It just keeps going and going. It is packed to capacity. It reinforces the scene of abundance, flowers bursting, intoxicated bees, everything is ripe to the core. Not a coincidence. Writers use syntax to enact the meaning. Expansive syntax.

 

#2

 

"Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?"

 

It contracts. And in the second stanza things are being cut down and put away.

 

        10.  One More Time:
 

TO AUTUMN (1820).

     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.