ABSTRACT

In 1819, an unusually warm English summer acceded to the plenitude of a ripe autumn, prompting from Keats, one of his most anthologised works, the ode ‘To Autumn’. 1 Enclosing the poem in a letter to Reynolds, Keats notes, ‘How beautiful the season is now—How fine the air. A temperate sharpness about it’ but he admonishes himself too, writing more ruefully, ‘I hope you are better employed than in gaping after the weather’. 2 The passing comment is lightly self-deprecating, but as he reflects in a letter addressed to his sister Fanny a month earlier, the clemency of that summer is peculiarly important to him:

The delightful Weather we have had for two Months is the highest gratification I could receive—no chill’d red noses—no shivering—but fair Atmosphere to think in—[ … ] I enjoy the Weather and I adore fine Weather as the greatest blessing I can have. 3