How do you feel when you sing or when you hear music fill the air? Recall a song now and examine your feelings. Poetry has the same kind of effect. Many poets and musicians over the centuries have been inspired by nature. When you look at nature or visit a place filled with magnificent scenery, do you sometimes feel a sense of wonder and appreciation in the same way that you appreciate music? When you hear the unique sound of the grasshopper chirping, what comes to your mind? During an extremely hot summer day or extremely cold winter day, do you think you can still sing and celebrate nature? Reflect on this as we enjoy and appreciate the poem “On the Grasshopper and the Cricket.”
On the Grasshopper and the Cricket by John Keats
Read, enjoy and reflect on the first four lines of the poem silently. You can also read the lines aloud and enjoy the way the words have been strung together, savor the images that come to your mind and enjoy the way the poem rhymes.
“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”
What do you normally do on a very hot summer day? How do you feel? Do you feel like the “birds” and take refuge in some cool spot when it is very hot? Do you feel like nature and everything else has come to a standstill on such a day? Think of such a hot day. Which is the voice according to John Keats, the poet, that symbolizes that the “poetry of earth is never dead” even in the most extreme conditions? On these thoughts, let us enjoy the next four lines of the poem.
“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.”
Reflect on the lines. What is the attitude of the grasshopper even in seemingly challenging conditions? When you are faced with a challenging situation, do you feel disturbed and try to run for cover? Do you take it easy and continue to enjoy yourself and try to keep your spirits high? Do you try to relax and find some pleasant pastime even when people around you feel down?
Let us now enjoy and appreciate the last six lines of the poem. Read the lines silently or aloud.
“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 songs, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The grasshopper among some grassy hills.”
Have you ever experienced extreme cold? Under such trying conditions, how do you and the people around you feel? Cold or warm? The poet here says that even in the other extreme condition of a very cold winter evening, the cricket continues to sing in a warm-hearted manner. The cricket’s attitude in winter symbolizes that “the poetry of earth is ceasing never.”