‘Each of the four divisions of the year marked by particular weather patterns and daylight hours.’
John Keats The Human Seasons was written sometime in 1818 and then later published in his book of poetry in 1819. In review, the poem cleverly references or compare rather, the stages of human life–as seasons. As it is in the weather seasons, when all things change from summer, autumn, winter, and spring–a natural progression of life could also be reflective of the stages of human development.
What I like to do when I am breaking down a poem, reviewing each stanza separately, I take note of the initial opening of the peace as it sets the theme for the rest of the work. Since this poem has four stanzas, coordinating with each of the seasons of the year. The meaning is profound–life just as the seasons, is temporary. Just as feelings, thoughts, and emotions are fleeting. They can change:
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:
As stated before, life is a process. We are born, mature, possibly reproduce, and then we die. In the spring, when everything new and we are curious about the world ‘lusty Spring‘ and are happy. Nothing unpleasant happens here.
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
It is summer now and is enjoying delight at a more productive age as young women and men. Just as in ‘spring,’ there is an experience, or some extraordinary memory ‘ruminate.‘ Sill good times are referenced in this second part of the poem. The last two stanzas are begging to reflect the latter years (autumn, winter) age is settling in:
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
Life starts to slow down (autumn). The mind and body become lazy and soon Winter and death.
He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,
Or else he would forego his mortal nature.
Death is a certainty that no one can avoid. I believe here in the end ‘pale misfeature‘ that death is mankind’s only flaw. There is a finality to everything. Well, this is the end. I just wanted to share what I am reading.
Until next time.
Source: English History.