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Analysis of "The Human Seasons," by Fernando Garcia

This presentation focuses on analyzing a classic sonnet by John Keats.
by

Fernando Garcia

on 28 March 2011

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Transcript of Analysis of "The Human Seasons," by Fernando Garcia

Analysis of a Classic Sonnet: "The Human Seasons" About the Poem This poem is considered a sonnet
It was written in the early 19th century by English poet, John Keats (1795-1821)
Keats wrote this poem in Teignmouth, England and enclosed it in a letter to Benjamin Bailey dated 13 March 1818
First published in Leigh Hunt's Literary Pocket-Book for 1819 Quick Analysis Keats compares the four seasons of a natural year with the several stages of human life
He clearly classifies these two as natural processes
Each stanza corresponds to each season of the year: Spring, summer, autumn and winter
Throughout the poem, Keats suggests that life is brief, temporary and that each period in our life creates different feelings and thoughts. Figurative Language Imagery plays an important role in this sonnet and so does figurative language
Although the author uses personification and simile in one occasion, he mostly sticks to metaphors during the course of the poem
The following are examples of figurative language found in Keats' poem: Spring Spring is compared to the first period of our lives
This season represents our childhood because it is the first stage of the year and the season of optimism and hope
Spring is the time of the year when trees and flowers come to life and it symbolizes the time when humans are born and grow
Spring is at one point personified as being "lusty"
Keats mentions that a man "has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear takes in all beauty with an easy span"
In other words, spring is described as being short and happy, just as we humans are during childhood Summer Summer is compared to our so-called maturity age
This season symbolizes our prime because summer is widely recognized as the best season of the year
It is marked by pleasantness,warm summer rain and a blooming of vegetation and it is the peak and the glorious age of life: We are young, beautiful, and mature
Keats describes summer as the time "when luxuriously Spring's honeyed cud of youthful thoughts he loves to ruminate, and by such dreaming high is nearest unto heaven"
By this time in our lives, we have had some experience and we are able to look back and learn from childhood mistakes in order to become better people Autumn Autumn represents the time when humans get old and wise, also known as the "grandparent" stage
During this season, as trees get ready for winter their leaves get wrinkled up and begin to fall off, just as our skin wrinkles up as we get older
The author states that this season is the time "when [our] wings [we] furleth close; contented so to look on mists in idleness"
In other words, this is a time of meditation, when humans detach themselves from all charms and become indifferent to all surronding things
An example of a simile is found on line 12: "To let things pass by unheeded as a threshold brook"
This simile refers to the fact that during "autumn," many things go unoticed like the stream that runs silently and invisibly under the cover of sand Winter The short couplet with which the poem ends, precisely describes the brief, insignificant span of old age that ultimately ends with death
Just like in winter when everything assumes a deathly look, the life of an old man wears "pale misfeatures"
This is a time of illness and weakness for the human body and mind
This season is marked by extreme dryness and cold, and this is exactly how the human body feels at this stage in life
Metaphorically speaking, when winter ends so does our life Theme The main themes in the poem are seasons and time
These two themes correlate with each other to represent the different stages of human life
As previously mentioned, each season represents a different stage in a person's life
Spring symbolizes birth and childhood, summer symbolizes youth and maturity, autumn symbolizes old age and wisdom, and winter symbolizes the road of agony that leads to death Each cycle in life has its own meaning and we as humans experience different feelings and thoughts in every stage of the way
During childhood humans are simply naive and innocent creatures; we experience puberty and sex hormones start to kick in
Once adulthood comes around, we are considered matured individuals, both physically and mentally; this is the time when we feel at our best
During the "grandparent" stage, humans experience spiritual changes as we focus more on the psychological and emotional side of life rather than the physical aspect of it
Finally, the "very" old stage occurs; this is the time when humans deteriorate and embrace the fact that they will soon die Tone Tone is the manner in which a poet makes his statement; it reflects his attitude toward his subject
The tone in "The Human Seasons" can be described as serious and calm
Throughout the poem, the author has a straightforward but calm attitude about his subject; he is neither humorous nor ironic
During the course of the poem, Keats uses peaceful words such as "dreaming," "heaven," and "quit coves" to reflect his tone Mood Mood is defined as the feeling that a poem creates
The overall mood in Keats' poem can be described as peaceful; however, each stanza in the poem has its own unique mood
The first stanza focuses on "Spring" and it creates a joyous and hopeful mood; words such as "lusty," "beauty," and "easy" help build this mood
The second stanza focuses on "Summer" and the mood can be described as confident, vivacious, and nostalgic; words such as "ruminate" and "dreaming high" help create these moods
The third stanza is about "Autumn" and Keats helps create a hopeless and lonely mood with words such as "quit coves" and "closed wings"
The fourth and final stanza focuses on "Winter" and the author helps create a gloomy and cold mood with words such as "pale misfeature" and "mortal nature" With an exception of four lines, each line consists of 10 syllables
The rhyme scheme is as follows: AB ab CD Ed FG fg HI
Alternating lines throughout the sonnet end in rhymes; for example, "year" and "clear," "man" and "span," "loves" and "coves," and so on Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;
There are four seasons in the mind of man:
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
Takes in all beauty with an easy span:
He has his Summer, when luxuriously
Spring's honeyed cud of youthful thought he loves
To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves
His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
He furleth close; contented so to look
On mists in idleness—to let fair things
Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.
He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,
Or else he would forego his mortal nature. Throughout the sonnet, Keats puts emphasis on masculine endings for rhyme
In fact, he uses masculine endings for the first four lines: "year," "man," "clear," "span"
Alliteration is also used in the poem and it creates a soothing flow that's like music to the ears: For example, take a look at lines 3 and 5: "He has his lusty Spring," "He has his Summer"
Is is evident that "H" is the domininant letter/sound in this lines and for that reason it is considered alliteration. Sound
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