Personification is a figure of speech in which the attributes of a person are transferred to inanimate objects or abstract ideas. In other words, in this figure of speech inanimate objects and abstract ideas or qualities are spoken of as if they are persons or human being.
In keats’ ‘To Autumn’, Autumn is personified in various human shapes. Keats has used a number of imageries to give the autumn a concrete shape of a person.
The poem opens with the poet’s addressing to autumn. He addresses the season autumn in a way as if it were a living person. Then he considers it as the most intimate friend of the maturing sun. The autumn and the sun are given the human power of making friendship. Autumn has made a conspiracy or agreement with the sun ‘to load and bless’ the vines and frees with ‘grapes and apples’, and also to ripen all fruits to the ‘core’. So, in the first stanza autumn is seen to be an active person who is dutiful and enjoys his work very much.
In the second stanza, autumn is however given a totally different personality. Here autumn is in the form of a rural peasant woman, who is busy during the harvest. Autumn, at first is seen as a woman doing the work of winnowing that is separating the chaff from the grain. But she has become tired and is sitting carelessly which indicates her inactivity. She is careless because she is not afraid of the future as she has harvested abundant crops this year. She knows that much corn has already been gathered, threshed and winnowed. Secondly autumn is personified as a solitary reaper, who in course of her work is so overcome by the sleep inducing smell of poppies and falls asleep, with the result that the next row of corn remains unreaped.
Thirdly, autumn is personified as 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. Giving the personality of a gleaner to autumn indicates that the harvest is almost over. Finally, autumn is given the personality of a cider presser, who sits by the cider press and watches patiently the apple juice flowing out of the press drop by drop.
Thus, in the second stanza autumn is given a concrete shape and a concrete personality. Autumn is seen in four different guises corresponding to the different occupations of the season autumn.
In the last stanza the poet is seen to be also speaking with the autumn. Autumn is seen to be as an unhappy man, because he is deprived of the beauties of spring. But the poet consoles the season, saying that it has its own songs which are no less individualistic.
Thus, throughout the poem autumn is given different personalities, related to the characteristics of this season.