This is a critical analysis of the poem “On the Grasshopper and Cricket”.
- ABOUT THE POEM
- CRITICAL APPRECIATION
- DICTION / WORDS / LANGUAGE
“On the Grasshopper and Cricket” About the poem
The title of the present poem, “On the Grasshopper and Cricket” is the 15th in Keats’ sonnet series. Some of the poet’s other notable sonnets are “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer”, ” Bright Star”, “On the Sonnet”, “When I have Fears’ etc. It is recorded that Keats wrote this sonnet in competition with Leigh Hunt’s poem entitled, “To the Grasshopper and the Cricket.” Charles Cowden Clarke records that this sonnet was written at Leigh Hunt’s cottage, on a challenge from Hunt. Both Hunt’s and Keats’s sonnets ‘appeared together in “The Examiner” for the 21st of September 1817; but Keats’s volume “Poems” had already appeared in June of that year.
“On the Grasshopper and Cricket” Summary
The earth has its own retinue of minstrels who keep the earth vibrant with life through their calls and shouts throughout the year. The music of nature does never end. The “poetry” refers to the music of nature. When the birds hide exhausted in cooling trees during summer, the grasshoppers make the hedges loud with their continuous buzz. The delight revealed through the song of the grasshoppers is unspeakable. Being tired it rests comfortably beneath some pleasant weed.
As the summer paves the way for winter a group of new musicians appear on stage. The winter season becomes full of warmth by the melody of the crickets emanating from the stove or somewhere near the stove. Lulled into sleep by the comfort from the stove and the enchanting music of the crickets one gets half-lost in drowsiness. The warmth of summer continues through the song of the crickets in such a beautiful way that the song appears to be the warm rendition of the summer grasshoppers from among some grassy hills.
Explanations of lines
the poetry of earth is never dead: poetry (n) a group of poems, song
poetry of earth- song of earth;
poetry of earth = various sounds of earth; cries and calls of birds and insects;
is never dead =does not become silent; does never cease to exist;
when all the birds are faint with the hot sun= when all the birds are tired of the sweltering heat of the sun;
faint (adj) ) down; lifeless, tired.
hot sun =hot sun rays of summer;
and hide in cooling trees: hide (v);
cooling trees= cooling (participle adj) that which cools; cold shadow of the trees;
a voice will run from hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper
Note Here the expression means that grasshoppers will be moving from one hedge to the other chirping
hedge – bush; a row of bushes; small trees planted close together;
when all the birds are faint = when all the birds get tired;
new-mown (adj) mead (n) recently cut meadow;
Grasshopper (n) a plant eating insect; locust;
Grasshopper (n) a type of insect that has long hind legs; such an insect hops on grassy places and low vegetation for food using the hind legs;
a vOice will run from hedge to hedge – the voice of a grasshopper will b in the hedges;
he takes the lead in summer luxury – the insect takes the leading role in summer luxury;
he has never done with his delights – his delights never come to an end or exhausted; tired out
comfortably; with case;
he rests =he takes rest;
pleasant (adj) weed = lovely weed;
The Poetry of Earth is ceasing never – The Poetry of Earth is not stopping
The Poetry of Earth = the song of earth;
IS ceasing never = never stopping
cease (v) stop
lone (adj) pi solitary;
winter evening= an evening in winter season;
frost (n) falling of snowflakes; extreme cold;
has wrought – has made/ created;
work= wrought wrought
the frost has wrought a silence= the frost has created silence;
shrills (v) D makes a shrill/ high pitched/ sharp noise;
stove = fireplace
song of the cricket; intense call /chirp /shout of a cricket;
drowsiness (n) – a feeling of being sleepy and lethargic; sleepiness; somnolence; tiredness; fatigue; weariness;
in warmth increasing ever = as the stove radiates more and more heat;
the Grasshoppper’s among some grassy hills= the song seems to be the song of the summer grasshoppers;
and seems to one in drowsiness. grassy hills.
Analysis of the poem
Keats in his poem “On the Grasshopper and Cricket” says that poetry and music in nature do never perish and he argues that summer and winter are not opposites and they are but parts of the same wonderful cycle of seasons which keeps repeating itself. Every season has its own beauty and melody, which one must learn to distinguish. Only then one can appreciate the continuity of the stream of life.
In the octave, Keats calls the grasshopper the poet of summer and addresses these eight lines to him. On a scorching day the blazing rays of the sun threaten to sap our energy. Nature’s musicians, the birds stop singing their delightful songs. They take shelter in the cool shade of the leafy boughs of the trees. Exhausted in the intolerable neat o the sun, they lapse into silence. Even then the music of the earth does not come to an end. At this hour one can hear the tiny grasshopper chirping merrily from hedge to hedge, luxuriating in the abundance of the season.
Undisturbed by the heat, he is beside himself with joy as he flits about in the air, filled with the fragrance of the freshly-mown grass in the meadows. When he becomes exhausted he rests beneath a pleasant cooling weed for a fleeting moment only to resume singing with renewed vigor. Thus the grasshopper, the poet of summer keeps alive the poetry of earth in this hot weather. In the sestet, Keats labels the cricket as the poet of winter. He assures that The Poetry of the and sultry season.
Earth does not ever cease, for the poets of nature keep it alive during different seasons. Winter arrives with its icy touch, imposing a death-like silence on the surroundings. Nature is now bleak and desolate, with the curtain of frost. In the chilly air all creatures seek the shelter of their own homes. Even then, the tireless bard of winter keeps the music of earth alive.
Breaking the painful silence of a long, cheerless winter evening comes the cricket’s shrill notes from somewhere near the stove. His joyous song permeates the surroundings, becoming louder every moment as the radiating heat from the stove warms the room. In contrast to the dull, lifeless weather, the happy chirping of the cricket sounds thrilling, infusing new energy into one’s soul. It reminds one that life exists and spring is not far behind.
On the Grasshopper and Cricket Analysis
There are two important themes of heat or warmth presented in the poem On the Grasshopper and Cricket . The first is the summer itself which is represented by the Grasshopper and the second is the song of the Cricket during the freezing year. The Grasshopper is presented as an appreciator of the “summer luxury” and relishes in the gift of warmth with its continuous “voice” that “runs from hedge to hedge.” In this case, the Grasshopper himself is capable of having his “delights” and fun with minimal effort and is able to rest if it feels tired.
This example follows the line “The Poetry of Earth is never dead”, revealing to us the liveliness of poetry that is easy to recognize. The cricket is presented as an appreciator of this warmth and poetry, but his appreciation “is never ceasing” which becomes the sonnet’s Volta. The cricket amidst the cold air, frost and silence works to create a song that all can appreciate.
The couplet is more difficult to decode: And seems to one in drowsiness half lost / The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.
The “one” that the speaker is referring to is quite possibly himself. In “drowsiness half lost he may be speaking about being half asleep or half enchanted by the sounds of the Cricket’s song. Here he seems to be comparing the Cricket to the Grasshopper. Neither Or them is superior to the other. But what the speaker may be trying to state is that even when pushed into an environment that seems impossible to enjoy, one can still have poetry.
This poetry will be just as good as the poetry that comes so easily to us in better times. This is perhaps the reason why the first line “The Poetry of Earth is never dead is repeated, yet altered in the Volta- “The Poetry of Earth is ceasing never. Even when these poetic energies appear to be dead, they are not.
On the Grasshopper and Cricket Analysis
The poem On the Grasshopper and Cricket has a number of figures of speech. Of them assonance is occasionally used and it does help to create the mood of relaxation and contemplation. The sonnet is written
on the Petrarchan model and the rhyme scheme is abba abba cde cde. The first two quatrains are sonorous and are used to describe the Grasshopper who “reads” us poetry by voice. The Cricket who actually performs a type of music has the least musical form of the sonnet. Keats also does not perfectly rhyme the words “dead” and mead.” This takes away emphasis from the word “dead, but when the line repeats the reader is forced to look back at the differences.
“Dead” become highlighted by the Volta instead of its rhyming word. This forces the reader to acknowledge the comparison or the Cricket to the Grasshopper and also of summer to winter. The Cricket who actually performs a type of music has the least musical form Or the sonnet. Keats also does not perfectly rhyme the words “dead” and mead.”
TITLE of On the Grasshopper and Cricket Analysis
The title of the poem,” The Poetry of Earth is justified as it holds a mirror to the theme of the poem in a symbolical way. The birds, the grasshoppers and the crickets become the symbols of the poets or nature’s musicians. By the poetry of the earth the poet alludes to the calls and shouts of the birds and insects of nature. To the poet the song of the bird, the droning of the crickets and the grasshoppers appear to be the poetry of the earth as they become the words of nature.
The birds and the insects like the grasshoppers and the crickets are like the poets. They create beautiful poetry for men to hear that has melody and rhythm of a song and the expression of the deep feelings and thoughts of nature. Poetry is often more thought-provoking than songs. And it is a perennial truth that poets and litterateurs draw sustenance from the sights and sounds of nature. So the title of the poem justly reflects the theme of the poem
DICTION OR WORDS AND LANGUAGE
The diction of the poem is simple and easily understandable. Through the use of simple monosyllabic words the poet has been able to convey his message appropriately. Assonance is occasionally there and it does help create the mood of relaxation and contemplation. “R” sound as in Earth, “birds, predominates the poem along with the small alliteration of “new-mown mead. These words feel like soft murmurs.
In the line, “He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed” all of these “ee” sounds seem to make the reader relaxed as if he was also drooping and enjoying a rest beneath a blade of grass. When the speaker turns and begins to describe winter time the assonance changes into long “o” sounds such as lone, stove, Song and “drowsiness. These sounds enhance a feeling of loneliness and also create focus on the word “lone” itself. “Frost and “wrought” gets emphasize to create a chilling sensation.