You may do so sans objection
Till the day of resurrection:
Give Me Women, Wine, and Snuff by John Keats

‘sans’ = without.

This is a controversial assertion — that one can indulge in a Trinity of women, booze and drugs until judgement day. Keats is going YOLO on this one…

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Until I cry out "hold, enough!" Give Me Women, Wine, and Snuff by John Keats

It’s all about pushing those limits. This exclamation makes it clear that Keats wants to go the distance with his hedonistic Trinity…

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Give me women, wine, and snuff Give Me Women, Wine, and Snuff by John Keats

An aggressive, assertive opening to a wonderfully direct poem. Keats kicks it off with an imperative, demanding the three things that, at some point, most men demand. Controversial, yes, but the Romantics were a controversial bunch.

This would be considered a centuries-old precursor to rap’s preferred trio: pussy, money, and weed.

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Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
To Autumn by John Keats

In a traditional, 10-line ode, these would be the culminating lines, and they are (or at least can be read as) cheerful. Ish. Singing and whistling will always connote happiness.

Also, the ‘red-breast’ robin is a very welcome harbinger of winter:

This is all contradicted by what comes next though…

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Lolz
March 25th, 2014

♥Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
♦Chirping songs of the grass hoppers becoming low and low and the whistles of red breast robin can be heard from a distant garden.

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And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; To Autumn by John Keats

This is so dark it’s almost morbid.

Lambs are never meant to be ‘fully-grown’. When they reach this point, they either a) become sheep or b) become:

The ‘bleating’ here is almost a call for help or death wail. It’s not a pleasant aural reference at all. Keats is giving in to morbidity here, the subtext of the bleating lambs being his own fear of death. It’s sad, and desperate.

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lolz
March 25th, 2014

♥And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
♦And the blears of lambs returning from grassy hills can also be heard.

jokel's photo

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May 31st, 2013

On the other hand, this might just be another sign of maturity. There is no need to see this image as dark, the allusions remain to how spring is past, nature is growing old, its purpose near completion.

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Borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
To Autumn by John Keats

The key idea here is that things are not simply on a decline towards death. Keats is freezing in time that moment in the balance BETWEEN life and death, highlighted by the ‘aloft/ sinking’ ‘lives/ dies’ juxtapositions. This is not a lament or a celebration so much as a musing on the tipping point between the two: a tipping point encapsulated in the concept of Autumn.

Deep.

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Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn To Autumn by John Keats

Clear funeral imagery here. There’s something quaint about insignificant gnats mourning the passing of summer, but, like any good Romantic, Keats takes this minor observation and lets his mind wonder with it into far more profound territory.

Autumn music can be heard in the sad or melodious songs of gnats, and this song is echoed by the hills present near the river bank and by the willow trees.

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Rosy hue; To Autumn by John Keats

On the one hand — a reference to vitality and life (flushed with colour)

On the other hand — an introduction to ‘red’.

No need to choose — I think the ambivalence is deliberate. This is poetry from the father of ‘negative capability’ after all.

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The soft-dying day, To Autumn by John Keats

Here, Keats is working incredibly hard to capture a very fleeting moment — the very beginning of the end. In this line we find the first explicit reference to death (‘dying’) but it is couched with the word word ‘soft’ in a surprisingly natural-sounding juxtaposition.

Perhaps the simple fact that every day dies is what makes this phrase so innocuous.

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Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— To Autumn by John Keats

But, Keats being Keats, he doesn’t do the obvious and simply lament the loss of Spring. He immediately finds solace in the unique beauty of Autumn in itself.

This line, with its reference to the ‘music’ of Autumn is as close to optimistic as you’ll get in this Ode. That said, all the punctuation suggests an underlying unease…

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lolz
March 25th, 2014

♥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;
♦Poet addresses the autumn season again and appreciates the music of autumn. you(the autumn) have your own music which can be heard when the clouds are blowing and reaching the farness end of the fields when the sun is setting and spreading its red dusk on grassy hills and fields.

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