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On the Grasshopper and the Cricket -- John Keats

Guest poem submitted by Mike Christie:
(Poem #910) On the Grasshopper and the Cricket
 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.
-- John Keats
It's cricket season here in Texas, and the other day a cricket found its way
into our office and started serenading us from a coworker's desk.  We
eventually tracked him down and released him outside, though the corpses of
dozens of his brethren are littering our parking lot, lobby and staircase.

Anyway, he reminded me of Keats' sonnet above, which I've liked since I read
it decades ago.  As I recall, the sonnet was written relatively early in
Keats' career, and was the result of a competition with a friend to write a
sonnet on a grasshopper.  I've never known who the friend was or how his
sonnet came out, though I rather suspect Keats won the competition.  If
anyone can find out I'd love to know.

Mike Christie.

[Minstrels Links]

Other poems by Keats:
Poem #12, On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer
Poem #182, La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Poem #316, Ode to a Nightingale
Poem #433, Why did I laugh tonight? No voice will tell
Poem #575, To Mrs Reynolds' Cat
Poem #696, Last Sonnet
Poem #770, A Thing of Beauty is a Joy for Ever
Poem #910, On the Grasshopper and the Cricket

Poetry competitions seem to have been quite popular with the Romantics; see
Poem #22, Ozymandias  -- Percy Bysshe Shelley
and its companion piece:
Poem #285, On a Stupendous Leg of Granite, Discovered Standing by Itself in
the Deserts of Egypt, with the Inscription Inserted Below  -- Horace Smith

33 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

JCMOguy23 said...

The contest was with Leigh Hunt -- Dec. 1816. The contest was Hunt's idea.

His poem:

Green little vaulter in the sunny grass,
Catching your heart up at the feel of June,
Sole voice that's heard amidst the lazy noon,
When even the bees lag at the summoning brass,
And you, warm little housekeeper, who class
With those who think the candles come too soon,
Loving the fire, and with your tricksome tune
Nick the glad silent moments as they pass;
Oh sweet and tiny cousins, that belong,
One to the fields, the other to the hearth,
Both have your sunshine; both, though small, are strong
At your clear hearts; and both seem given to earth
To ring in thoughtful ears this natural song --
In doors and out, summer and winter, mirth.

"Who won?" isn't a commonly asked question.

--Mark

Anonymous said...

Keats won.

Carl said...

Excellent to know about the Mike Christie,and Minstrels Links, also the poem is just outstanding relating to the cricket, wonderful work.

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Anonymous said...

this poem has an octet and a sestet right?

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