To Autumn by John Keats and Autumn Serenade by by John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman

Autumn Serenade” is a jazz piece by John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman from their 1963 collaborative album: John Coltrane And Johnny Hartman. Despite being released almost 150 years after the publication of John Keats’ “To Autumn,” the two works share a very similar sentiment, supported by many similar poetic devices. 

First of all, both the song and poem clearly express simple appreciation for fall, which certainly reflects humanity’s intrinsic love of nature and urge to celebrate it via art, even across multiple generations. But the pieces also both personify the season in similar ways; in “To Autumn,” Keats addresses the season directly, and in “Autumn Serenade” the season is described as a woman who comes “through the trees” with her “serenade.” In both cases the poets characterize autumn in order to connect the audience to the fall time they are describing. By using personification they are able to ground a very abstract idea—a time of year—in the very familiar concept of a person who can be directly interacted with. 

Both poems also evoke a sense of timelessness in order to highlight the recurring nature of a yearly season. Keats does this with phrases like “with patient look’ and “last oozings hours by hours;” Coltrane and Hartman do it more explicitly with lines like “Let the years come and go/ I’ll still feel the glow that time cannot fade.” Either way, both pieces use time-related language to pay homage to the time-related element of seasonal change and the reflection on years past that a change in season can cause. I, personally, think there’s a unique beauty to these two separate works commenting on the timelessness of autumn 150 years apart. It just goes to show that humans will always need to create art, and nature is something that’s always been there to appreciate and (hopefully) always will be (sans global warming).

Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s