To Autumn: Stanza 2 - Summary

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Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


      Who hath not seen.....hours by hours. This stanza describes the occupations of Autumn. Autumn is here personified as a winnower, as a gleaner and as a cider-presser. All these operations—winnowing, reaping, gleaning and cider pressing belong to Autumn and are here supposed to be performed by women. Autumn is, therefore, seen here as a woman. First, Autumn is seen as a woman doing the work of winnowing, that is separating the chaff from the grains. If anyone wants to see Autumn, he may go into the fields and he will see women engaged in the winnowing operation, while the breeze ruffles the locks of their hair. This is one picture of Autumn. Secondly, we can see Autumn in the shape of a reaper, who has been engaged in reaping corn but who in the course of her work, is so overcome by the sleep-inducing: smell of poppies that she falls asleep, with the result that the next row of corn remains unreaped. Thirdly, Autumn may be seen in the character of a gleaner. A gleaner is a woman who collects grains from the field when the crops have been removed. A gleaner may be seen walking along steadily with the weight of grains upon her head, crossing a stream. The sight of the gleaner is also symbolic of Autumn. Finally, Autumn may be seen in the figure of a woman who is crushing the ripe apples in the wooden press to obtain their juice from which cider is to be made. This woman sits by the cider press and watches patiently the apple juice flowing out of the press, drop by drop. The sight of the cider press is also associated with Autumn. Thus in this stanza, Autumn has seen given a concrete shape and a concrete personality. Autumn has been seen in four different guises, corresponding to the different occupations of this season.

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