The Word Genius of John Keats

Below is the ode “To Autumn” by the poet John Keats

Here is a short, fun exercise that will show you what a genius Keats was when he chose words.

I have deleted some words in the ode.

Choose some words yourself. What would you put in?

Have a go and then at the bottom of the post I have printed the original ode with Keats’s words on bold red.

Then, compare your choices with Keats’s choices.

 

Ode with some words taken out

To Autumn

John Keats – 1795-1821

Season of mists and ……fruitfulness,
  Close ……….friend of the ……….sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
  With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves …….;
To ….with apples the …..cottage-trees,
  And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To ….the gourd, and ….the hazel shells
  With a …..kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think ….days will never cease,
    For summer has ……….. their clammy cells.

Keats’s version with Keats’s words in bold red

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-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
  And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
  With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
    For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

 

How did you do?

You can do the same exercise for the rest of the ode.

Enjoy.

PS My late Uncle told me about the above exercise. He learnt it from a teacher in Southern Rhodesia, probably in the 1930s.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s