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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about...poet John Keats who 180 years ago paid tribute to the coming season in his ode "To Autumn."


CURWOOD: A hundred and eighty years ago this month, John Keats returned from a tour of Northern England and Ireland to write his Ode to Autumn. At the time, Keats was caring for his brother, who was dying from tuberculosis, and the poet found himself immersed in the end of two life cycles: his brother's and the season's. Keats found solace in his work. Here's an excerpt:

"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 leaves run. To bend with apples the mossed cottage trees and fill all the fruit with ripeness to the core. Then in the wailful choir, the small mats mourn among the river sallows, borne aloft or sinking as the light wind lives or dies. And full-grown lambs now bleat from hilly born. Hedge crickets sing. And now, with treble soft, the red breast whistles from garden croft, and gathering swallows twitter in the skies."

Indeed, during his all too brief career, Keats devoted many poems to the seasons. In his eyes they mirrored the human condition.

"Four seasons fill the measure of the year," he wrote, "and there are four seasons in the mind of man." And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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