Comparison

You can discover a lot about a poem by comparing it to one by another author that deals with a similar subject. You could compare features such as theme, form, structure, rhythm, language and figures of speech.

The key thing to do when comparing poems is to note the points where they are similar and the points where they differ. You could make a list noting similarities and differences between the two poems.

Comparison of 'To Autumn' by John Keats and 'Afternoons' by Philip Larkin

Similarities

  • Both poems make use of the idea of the seasons passing to comment on the progress of human life.
  • Both poems progress over the course of a day.
  • The two poems both contain three stanzas with a logical time development which mirrors the development of the content.

Differences

  • Larkin’s poem concentrates on how life is swiftly passing by and is regretful in tone. Keats’ poem is far more of a celebration of the power of autumn; although death is still present it is recognised as part of the inevitable circle of life.
  • Keats’ poem progresses across the whole day; Larkin’s is more concentrated.
  • The Keats poem uses the formal structure, rhythms and rhyme of an ode. Larkin’s poem has a clear regular structure but is less formal. Both poets choose suitable forms to support their subject matter.

Try comparing To Autumn to these other poems:

  • Composed Upon Westminster Bridge by William Wordsworth
  • Where The Picnic Was by Thomas Hardy