What makes Paulin’s accomplishment all the more astounding is his ability to derive the most profound analyses from evidence that a more mediocre critic would no doubt refer to as ‘scant.’ To fully understand his achievement, let’s compare the poem with his analysis. Here’s Keats:
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,And here's Paulin:
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells.
If we look closely at To Autumn, we can see that it is a pastoral poem, which aims to communicate a subtle anxiety and discomfort behind or within its apparently attractive images. The susurruses in the first line begin this, and the word "mists" takes us back to Milton, whom Keats read very closely: Milton speaks of the "mists and intricacies of state", and characterises Satan as a mist.Because Keats uses the word “mist” he must be talking about Satan. Autumn is therefore the season of Satan and mellow fruitfulness. Now things begin to become clear, no?
The word "conspiring" alludes to what the Tory press called the "Manchester conspiracy" - the meeting on St Peter's Fields, where the massacre took place.The word “conspiring” obviously means that Autumn is conspiring to repeal the corn laws. Does this mean that Satan was in favour of land reform? I'm not sure.
The sun-blood-run combination brings gun almost to mind, and those loaded apple trees make me uneasy: once apples touch the ground they're prey to slugs and go rotten. The word "bend" belongs to the language of power, and that phrase "ripeness to the core" is strange and unsettling - we talk about fruit being rotten to the core, never ripe. There is a similar effect in "clammy cells", almost a prison image, or a far-off echo of a Manchester sweatshop.Okay, I give up. I think at this point Paulin has become immune to parody. But I advise you to read the rest, because it really is quite wonderfully insane.