In The Seasons (1730), one of the best-known poems in the English language during the 18th and 19th centuries, James Thomson characterised autumn as ‘rich, silent, deep’, a time of gentle beauty, soft light and effortless abundance:
In cheerful error, let us tread the maze
Of Autumn, unconfin’d; and taste, reviv’d,
The breath of orchard big with bending fruit.
Obedient to the breeze and beating ray,
From the deep-loaded bough a mellow shower
Incessant melts away.
As Alexandra Harris puts it in Weatherland (2015), her lavish survey of artistic responses to the English climate, Thomson ‘was the first to elaborate the aesthetics of a season that now seems more “poetic” than any other’. Echoes of his voice can be heard in Keats’s ‘season of