William Blake’s To Autumn recounts the meeting of the poet and “Autumn”– the offspring of an inebriated Summer.
Autumn is described by the poet as being “stain’d with the blood of the grape”, a reference to wine (the result of grapes reaching full maturity, death and fermentation) and also a reference to being newborn. The poet asks Autumn to rest and recount the lusty tale of his creation.
Autumn sings of the rapture of Summer (his Mother) and her consummation to the poet’s music, “The narrow bud opens her beauties to the sun and love runs in her thrilling veins”…. “Blossoms hand round the brows of morning, and flourish down the bright cheek of modest eve”.
Though Autumn is newborn, his time is fleeting. Sadly, at the poem’s end, the full bodied offspring of Summer is forced to “gird himself” for the coming Winter and fleas from the poet’s sight “o’er the bleak hills”- leaving only his legacy, his “golden load” behind.
To Autumn, by William Blake
Oh Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain’d
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
“The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hand round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.
“The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.”
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.