John Keats wrote "To Autumn" on this date in 1819, ending his poetic career with a last flowering of genius.
Keats in the spring of the year wrote his famous odes in a remarkable burst of creativity. In late summer, he left London to stay in the old cathedral city of Winchester, 60 miles away, hoping to finish several projects he hoped would prove lucrative.
On a walk along the River Itchen on Sept. 19, he basked in the late summer weather, finding a strange beauty in the stubble fields after the harvest. In a letter to his friend John Hamilton Reynolds, he commented "how beautiful the season is now - How fine the air," and noted that he'd composed the poem.
Sadly, he abandoned the epic "Hyperion" and other work he'd wanted to finish in Westminster. Outside of the fragmentary "The Living Hand," Keats had written his final poem with "To Autumn." Suffering from tuberculosis, he died in Rome two years later.
Keats in "To Autumn" asks "Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?"
The young poet didn't know that he'd written his last songs of spring.