Wednesday, 29 February 2012

On the Grasshopper and the Cricket

On The Grasshopper And Cricket
by John Keats
The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead:
That is the grasshopper's -- he takes the lead
In summer luxury, -- he has never done
With his delights, for when tired out with fun,
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper's among some grassy hills.

Paragraph 1 - Introduction – Include the title and author, a general explanation of the subject matter, a summary of what the poem is about, and what the key themes of the poem are (if there are any).

Paragraph 2 - Include detailed, stanza-by-stanza (or section-by-section, with line references) analysis of what is actually happening in the poem (without the greater depth of analysis coming later).

Paragraph 3 - Discuss the subtext and the implied. Look at the way that the poet hints at wider meaning, how a greater range of interpretation can be applied. This paragraph should lead in to the analysis of style in Paragraph 4.

Paragraph 4 - This paragraph should be a focused discussion of the way the poem is written and structured with regard to style – analysis of diction, rhythm and rhyme, figurative imagery, mood and tone, alliteration and assonance, the way that pace is controlled and atmosphere created – with detailed reference to the text in the form of quotation and line references.

Paragraph 5 - Link this poem with any other literature (especially poetry) you have read or studied. What are some common themes? In this case, you should be thinking especially about how this poem compares with Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Sonnet 43".

Paragraph 6 - Conclusion – Discuss your overall feeling about the poem, its abiding images, and whether it is successful or not in what it sets out to do.


  1. On the Grasshopper and the Cricket- by John Keats, is about a grasshopper representing good times in the summer, and a cricket representing bad times that are associated with winter. It is written like a fable – as the title’s name references. The key themes are of the cyclic way in which nature evolves every year, and how this alters our mood; but also how we must peruse in our endeavours.
    In the first half of the poem (before the Volta), Keats talks about summer, and in the second half (after the stanza) about winter. In the first line he says that the ‘poetry of earth’ or that the earth is always beautiful; in the second line he shows how the animals are sedate and relaxed in the height of the summer sun; in the third line he continues with this image and introduces the Grasshopper as the ‘voice’ that is running; in the fourth line he describes the environment in which this Grasshopper lives; and in the fifth he says that the ‘voice’ is that of the Grasshopper’s, and that he loves the summer; in the next two lines Keats tells us that this Grasshopper has never had enough fun or delight in summer; in the next he says that when summer ends he finally rests beneath some ‘pleasant weed’. After the Volta he then repeats the first line of the poem, and then proceeds to talk about a cricket in winter. He describes a harsh winter’s night, with a ‘silencing frost’. Then he says that a sound comes from the stove- the song of a cricket – that is warming and pleasant. He finishes by saying that we can distantly hear the Grasshopper’s song, ‘among some grassy hills’.
    Keats opens the poem with the line ‘The poetry of earth is never dead’ – here he is saying that the beauty of nature is an art form and it will never cease to exist. Keats portrays a summer scene in the first half of a poem, and he represents the enjoyment everyone partakes in during summer through the Grasshopper: ‘He has never done with his delights’. This is showing how the earth is beautiful in summer, and how this in turn helps lift everyone’s mood and the feelings of everyone. He then contrasts this with his representation of winter, with its harshness and coldness, ‘The frost has wrought a silence’, which emphasises how fantastic the earth is in summer. The cricket is then used as hope ‘The cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever’ and reminds us of the Grasshopper, to tell us that summer will return and to pursue through winter, but also that winter can be beautiful too.
    The poem is presented in petrarchan form, with the ABBA etc. rhyme pattern, this form of poem has a cyclic nature to it and repeats itself, which reflects the fact that Keats is saying that nature is cyclic and that good times (summer) will return. The last two lines do not rhyme, which makes the poem seem to continue beyond the final line, again reflecting the way in which the beauties of nature will return. The assonance of the long vowel sounds in ‘the new-mown mead’ reflects the gentle and calming environment of summer; this is then contrasted with the harsh vowel sounds of ‘wrought a silence’ in winter, which shows how harsh winter is. This emphasises the contrast between winter and summer, but how they are two separate beauties- summer being a gentle and relaxing beauty, whereas winter is harsh and cold, yet still beautiful. This is then reinforced with the line ‘The poetry of earth is ceasing never’, saying that the earth is beautiful and always will be.

  2. here is the Second half (it was too long to publish in one go)

    On the Grasshopper and the Cricket is similar to ‘The Flower-Fed Buffaloes’, because even though ‘The Flower-Fed Buffaloes’ is warning us of industrialisation and how mankind is ruining the beauty of nature; it still highlights the serene beauties found in nature and gives strong homage to them. ‘The Flower-Fed Buffaloes’ talks about the beauties of nature that have long passed away, like ‘On the Grasshopper and the Cricket’, talks about the beauties of earth that pass away through the changing of the seasons, but in contrast it also tells us of how they will return and beauty is never dead or far away.
    I think that the poem is very successful in subtly reminding us that the earth is beautiful and that it will always be beautiful no matter what mankind does to tarnish it. It is presented in a fable arrangement, with the anthropomorphic personification of the Cricket and Grasshopper, which reinforces that he is trying to make this point, because fables usually have a morally directed focus or outcome.

  3. Commentary on “On the Grasshopper and the Cricket” by John Keats
    This is a poem which was written by Keats during the Romantic era, when poets sought to capture and relate to the beauty of nature. In the poem Keats compares two very different insects; he is trying to prove that the beauty of nature is just as prevalent in the winter, when life and nature is less obvious, as in the gaudy and raucously vivacious summer. This is because even in the depths of winter we are constantly reminded of the beauty of summer, and how it will soon return. The title is a comparison, which makes it seem as if the poem will highlight the contrasts between the two animals, but although this is true, the poem serves more to show how the noise and vitality of both the grasshopper and the cricket both perpetuate nature. The poem is full of hope and faith, faith in the continuance of nature, and hope for summers to always return.
    The poem is written in the form of a petrachan sonnet, which is characterized by, iambic pentameter and fourteen lines, a sextet and an octet, this is an interesting form to chose, as a sonnet is normally a form used to convey love, here there is no romance, but only Romance, Keats is displaying his love for nature by honouring it with a love poem. Also the repetitive rhyme scheme symbolizes the cycles of nature, where summer constantly leaves and returns. There is no definite termination of the poem; the rhyme scheme continues to the end, this shows us that nature is eternal and never ending.
    The first line of the poem compares nature to art, which gives it elevation from the mundane, and relates to its beauty. By saying that nature and poetry are one Keats is implying that poetry transcends other art forms. Again Keats references the eternalness of nature, making it immortal by saying that poetry will never die. He goes on to talk about the summer, where life and therefore nature are in abundance and obvious, in the summer everything is plentiful and the capricious grasshopper revels in its pleasures. The use of assonance throughout hints towards the songs of birds or animal noises, as vowel sounds are more like the voices of animals. Nature provides everything in the summer, from the nutrients and warmth that the animals and plants use to grow, to the more subtle luxuries such as a place to shelter from the hot sun. The grasshopper exploits the summer, taking everything it has without thought for the consequences, or without preparation for the difficulties of the winter. He does not plan for the future and exploits the world freely - this perhaps is related to humanity and our exploitation of the available resources, whilst they exist, but not preparing for a time where they will be less plentiful.
    Traditionally in a sonnet there is an octet, followed by a Volta, or a change of tone, and then another sextet. But On the Grasshopper and The Cricket challenge this, the beginning of the sextet reiterates the message of the first line of the octet, “The poetry of the earth is ceasing never:” This is then contrasted to the images Keats gives us of the winter, he presents us with an image of loneliness, whereas the summer was filled with life the winter is silent. The use of sibilance throughout the sextet makes the poem quiet and has an onomatopoetic quality, like the sound of wind in the winter, or leaves falling. But even in this desolate, icy wilderness, where nature is perhaps at its most unreachable, people are constantly reminded of the summer and its beauty. Even the sound of a kettle whistling on a stove harks back to the sound of The Crickets summer song. The summer will always return, bringing beauty and life.
    The poem is extremely positive, Keats clearly believes that nature will always be here, this contrasts with many of the other Romantic poems of the day, which made dismal assertions about the way man was degrading nature. There is very little human interference in the Grasshopper, which is perhaps why nature is presented as so untainted.


  4. On the Grasshopper and the Cricket.

    On the Grasshopper and the Cricket by John Keats is about reflecting the poet's belief that the beauty of nature never ends. The poem is about how Mother Nature will be omnipresent and continue to bring life and hope to the environment all around us. The theme in this poem is beauty as Keats is suggesting that although we easily recognize the beauty of life in youth, there is also plenty of beauty in old age.
    The poem compares and contrasts a hot summer day and a bitterly cold and lonely winter evening. It's so hot that the usually chirpy and active birds have taken shelter amongst the shady trees and the whole countryside seems to be quiet, but just then one can hear the ever active grasshopper chirping away merrily in the hedges. Similarly when the speaker is cosily sheltered in the comfort of his home in front of a warm stove from the cold frosty winter and is beginning to feel lonely, the silence is shattered by the shrill chirpings of the cricket, in fact a kettle, which adds meaning to the lonely winter evening without filling it up by reminding him of the music of the grasshopper in the summer months.
    Keats creates contrast between the grasshopper and cricket by showing their different behaviours. Keats commends the cricket in the last part of the poem, stating how the cricket seems to rejuvenate the pleasant, hot weather through its song ‘warmth increasing’. Before the return of the cricket, hostile words like ‘wrought’ and ‘shrills’ are used to show the negativity, which is finally washed away by the ‘song’ of the cricket. The grasshopper, the exact counterpoint to the cricket, is a metaphor of the summer, when the ‘hot sun’ means that even ‘birds faint’, yet the grasshopper continues his ballad to nature ‘ voice will run’ when everything else is seems to lie undisturbed. Keats highlights the admirable resilience of nature in that the grasshopper continues to ‘sing’ when everything is stifled.
    The poem is done in the rhyme scheme of ABBA and also in petrarchen form. These uses of form again bring out the cyclic, eternal and perpetual life of nature. The rhyme scheme also shows how the far corners of nature, things which seem impossible distances apart, can be threaded together in a celebration of natural life at its most raw and beautiful.

    Nick Scott

  5. On the Grasshopper and the Cricket by John Keats.
    The poem is using a grasshopper and a cricket to portray the beauty of nature.
    The poem is essentially about Keats belief that the beauty of nature will never die. It also comments on the cyclical way of nature and the seasons.
    It also is about how nature is the thing that sustains everything and everyone and without natural beauty we are nothing.
    Lines 1-8 , the octet, are talking about a day in summer and keats uses the grasshoppers call to emphasise the ‘luxury of summer’.
    The sestet, after the volta, is talking about a cold winter’s day. And uses the shrill of cricket to show that this season too is beautiful (However, the shrill of the cricket may in fact be the sound of a kettle boiling)
    In line one Keats begins with ‘The poetry of earth is never dead’ he is describing the earth of an art, highlighting its beauty. He also shows that it is eternal and will never cease with the phrase ‘never dead’
    In the second line he shows the power of nature and they delicate beauty using imagery of both the sun and the birds.
    The third line then goes to show that nature is all giving as it in then provides the ‘cooling trees’ where the birds can hide from the sun. It also introduces the idea of the crickets ‘voice’ representing nature.
    In line 4 he then shows us where the grasshopper dwells.
    In the next 3 lines Keats says that the grasshopper has a lot of fun in the beautiful summer months and is never ‘done with his delights.’
    Line 9, the first line after the Volta, he essentially repeats the first line of the poem ‘the poetry of earth is ceasing never:’ however the awkward syntax emphasises the last word Never, further showing the eternal beauty of nature.
    In the next 4 lines Keats is trying to show that even on a ‘lone winter’s evening’ there is the shrill of a cricket, although actually a kettle boiling, it shows that even in the depths of winter the cyclical nature of the seasons will bring summer around again and the grasshopper along with the beauty of nature will return again.
    The Poem is in fact a Petrarchan sonnet and so in Iambic pentameter. In this form ABBA the rhymes repeat themselves and come in a cyclical nature mirroring the themes of the poem. Also without the terminal couplet of Shakespearean Sonnets the poem seems not to truly finish but carry on indefinitely , like nature within the poem.
    The Volta in this poem, although happening at the same time that the seasons change, doesn’t in fact change the overall mood of the poem. It is still talking about the beauty of nature. Having said this, before the Volta the theme is of the massive glory of nature and how everthing in nature is beautiful. After the volta it is focused on the smaller details and how even the smallest things are still naturally beautiful. The fact that the mood stays the same is emphasised by the first line being repeated.
    On the grasshopper and the cricket is similar to many of the other poems as it is written about nature and the beauty of it. This is also the case, for example, in Dover Beach. But whereas Dover Beach ends on a negative note of humans uncontrollably destroying nature ‘blindly’ this poem is more optimistic and saying that no matter what humans do to nature it will always be there to provide and will always be beautiful.
    On the grasshopper and the cricket is similar to many of the other poems as it is written about nature and the beauty of it. This is also the case, for example, in Dover Beach. But whereas Dover Beach ends on a negative note of humans uncontrollably destroying nature ‘blindly’ this poem is more optimistic and saying that no matter what humans do to nature it will always be there to provide and will always be beautiful.

    Alex Wilkins