John Keats was born on October 31st, 1795 in London, England. He was a romantic poet and his poetry was marked by vivid imageries expressed through philosophy and great sensuous appeal. Some of his famous works are ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, ‘Ode to Autumn’, ‘On Grasshopper and the Cricket’, ‘Endymion’, ‘Hyperion’ and many more.
Poem in Brief: “On the Grasshopper and the Cricket” is a fine sonnet and a symbolic poem. The grasshopper symbolizes summer while the cricket symbolizes the cold winter. The opening line of the poem suggests that ‘the poetry of earth is never dead.’ Every poet has been attracted towards nature and so has Keats been. Through his poem, ‘On the Grasshopper and the Cricket’ the poet asserts that no matter what the season is, whether it is the sweltering summer or the harsh cold winter, the music and the poetry of the nature is never dead.
During a very hot summer day, all the birds take rest under shady trees. Due to the scorching heat of the sun, they are tired and stop their twittering and singing. Yet the music of the earth does not come to a halt. The grasshopper goes on hopping from one hedge to another, chirping and singing merrily to continue with the music of the earth. It continues to sing delighting until he is satisfied and tired out with fun that it takes rest under some shady weed.
The poet again mentions that the poetry of the earth will never cease. It is omnipresent and ever-lasting. During the bitterly cold winter evening, when all living creatures have taken shelter for rest, an atmosphere of loneliness and silence prevails. Even then the poetry of the earth continues without any break. The cricket which has been driven indoors to seek the warmth of the stove sings a shrill song and it gets louder and louder as he gets more and more warmth from the stove. Now the living beings and the animals who are in slumber cannot find any difference in the song of the cricket from that of the grasshopper. They think the music of the grasshopper is still continuing.
Therefore, Keats wants to convey that all music is same whether it comes from the grasshopper or the cricket. The singers may be different but the tunes created are all expressions of love and happiness.
Analysis of On the Grasshopper and the Cricket:
‘On the Grasshopper and the Cricket’ is a fourteen lines Petrarchan sonnet with a line scheme of abba abba. It is written in iambic pentameter and can be divided into an octet and a sestet. The first half of the octet deals with the imageries of summer while the second half deals with the grasshopper. The first half of the sestet deals with the winter and the second half deals with the cricket.
The theme of the poem is that no one is ever alone in the world, there is always a living force working in the nature. The poet uses contradictory tones in “On the Grasshopper and the Cricket”; the ‘wrought in silence’ creates a gloomy and drowsy atmosphere which is in stark contrast with the summer.
As said earlier, Keats belonged to the Romantic age and these romantic poets were escapists; they escaped into the world of imagination and fancy from the world of reality, pain and suffering. In this particular poem, we find Keats asking his readers to concentrate on the music of the tiny insects which can bring some relief to the earth during extreme conditions with the sweet music they create.
The message of the poem is that life goes on in spite of the extreme weather conditions and there is always someone to create some music and joy which brings us respite and allows us to continue with our life in spite of extreme situations.
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