Is there an edition of Keats' poem To Autumn which ends the first stanza with something other than a period (full stop)? Do we have an edition of it that Keats saw through the press?

I think the stanza ought to end with a colon but I have not seen it printed that way. It ought to end with a colon because as it stands it is merely a sentence fragment, and I have never known Keats to write sentence fragments (ejaculations are a kind of sentence); with a colon, the stanza is an extended equivalent to "O Autumn" leading up to the next stanza, which begins with a complete sentence.

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1 Answer 1


‘To Autumn’ was first published in Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St Agnes and Other Poems (London: Taylor and Hessey, 1820) where it starts on page 137 and you can see for yourself that the first stanza of the poem ends with a full stop. The book was published in July 1820, a couple of months before Keats departed for Italy, so it seems likely that he had the opportunity to correct the proofs.

I think there is little real difficulty here: those readers who successfully thread the maze of syntax and realize that Keats has only given them a noun phrase can easily fix things, for example, by imagining an elided “thou art” somewhere along the way.

A search of the Internet Archive finds hundreds of editions of the poem, but nearly all of them have the full stop after “cells”. Nonetheless, I did find one edition with a colon:

The top of page 418 showing the first stanza of ‘To Autumn’ ending with a colon.

Anon, ed. (1882). Fifth Book of Reading Lessons, p. 418. Toronto: Thomas Nelson.

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