Home » Victorian Authors List » John Clare Biography » Autumn – Summary and Critical Analysis

Autumn – Summary and Critical Analysis


“Autumn” by John Clare is a celebration of the fall season, capturing its beauty, melancholy, and the subtle changes it brings to the natural world. The poem delves into the various facets of autumn, from the ripening fruits and the rustling leaves to the migrating birds and the shorter days, offering a vivid portrayal of the season.

Critical Analysis

John Clare’s “Autumn” is a masterful ode to one of the most evocative seasons. Clare’s detailed observations and deep reverence for nature shine through in his descriptions of the autumnal landscape. The poem is not just a mere depiction of fall but a deeper exploration of the transience of life, the passage of time, and the cyclical nature of the seasons. Clare’s portrayal of autumn is both celebratory and contemplative, reflecting the duality of the season — its beauty and its indication of the impending winter.


  1. Beauty of Nature: The poem is a tribute to the natural world, highlighting the unique beauty of the autumn season.
  2. Transience and Change: Autumn, with its falling leaves and shorter days, symbolizes the impermanence of life and the inevitability of change.
  3. Harvest and Abundance: The poem touches on the theme of harvest, a time of abundance, and the culmination of a year’s growth.
  4. Anticipation of Winter: Amidst the beauty of fall, there’s an underlying sense of melancholy and the impending cold of winter.

Literary Devices

  1. Imagery: Clare’s vivid imagery, from “hedge apples” to “red-breast and wren,” paints a detailed picture of the autumn landscape.
  2. Alliteration: Phrases like “winds that waft” and “robin and the wren” add a rhythmic quality to the poem.
  3. Personification: Clare gives human attributes to aspects of nature, such as the sun “mellowing” and the winds “wafting.”
  4. Metaphor: The poet employs metaphors like “summer’s best of weather” to convey the essence of the season.


The poem follows a consistent rhyme scheme, adding a melodic quality to Clare’s descriptions. The rhyme scheme can be described as “ABAB,” with each stanza adhering to this pattern, providing a harmonious flow to the narrative.

Stanza-by-Stanza Analysis

  1. First Stanza:
    • Clare introduces the reader to the autumn season, describing it as the culmination of summer’s best weather. He mentions the fruits of the season, indicating harvest time.
  2. Second Stanza:
    • The poet delves into the sensory experiences of autumn, from the sounds of the winds to the sights of the migrating birds. The mention of the “robin and the wren” adds a touch of melancholy, as these birds are often associated with the colder months.
  3. Third Stanza:
    • Clare speaks of the shorter days and the longer nights, indicating the transition towards winter. The “hedge apples” and “gossamer” further paint a picture of the season’s unique offerings.
  4. Fourth Stanza:
    • The poet touches upon the activities of the season, such as nut-gathering. He also mentions the “mellowing sun,” suggesting the gentler, softer sunlight of autumn.
  5. Fifth Stanza:
    • Clare concludes by reiterating the beauty of the season, from the “hazels” to the “breezy weather.” The poem ends on a celebratory note, emphasizing the poet’s deep appreciation for autumn.

In “Autumn,” John Clare offers a detailed and heartfelt portrayal of the fall season, capturing its essence in all its multifaceted beauty. Through his keen observations and lyrical language, Clare transports the reader to the heart of the countryside, allowing them to experience autumn in all its glory.