Analysis of the Grasshopper and the Cricket
In John Keats’s sonnet “On the Grasshopper and the Cricket”, he expresses his love and admiration for nature and illustrates this attitude by depicting the two “musicians” of different seasons in nature—- the grasshopper and the cricket. Keats writes about a summer and a winter scene in the two parts of the poem divided by the first eight lines and the last six lines. The grasshopper is nature’s “musician” in summer and the cricket is the one in winter.
Nature’s “musicians” change as the seasons change, but the music of nature never ends. Keats uses this example to express the theme that the beauty and the cycle of life in nature never dies. In the opening line, Keats asserts, “The poetry of earth is never dead.” (1). He proves the statement by describing a summer scene in nature where all the “all the birds are faint with the hot sun, /And hide in cooling trees” (2-3) and the grasshopper takes the lead and sing “[from] hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead.”(4) The birds represent the “musicians” in spring, and they stop their music in summer because of the hot weather.
However, the grasshopper is not afraid of the heat; it takes the place of nature’s “musician” in summer. The change of the musicians of nature from birds to the grasshoppers stands for the cycle of life and refers back to the first line that “[the] poetry of earth is never dead.”(1) Keats then describes the grasshopper’s happiness in nature in the next lines. “In summer luxury, – he has never done/With his delights; for when tired out with fun/He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed. (6-8) The word “luxury” and the imagery “pleasant weed” express a happy and positive tone and shows the author’s love and admiration towards nature. Personifications in the first eight lines such as “faint”, “hide” and “takes the lead” suggests Keats’s love for the creatures in nature as well. In the rest of the poem, line 8-14, Keats repeats his claim that “the poetry of earth is ceasing never(8)” and then depicts a winter scene.
He begins the scene with “a lone winter evening”(10), “frost” and “silence”, which show a cold, lonely and silent winter night image. However, the music of nature still continues in such extreme weather, as “from the stove there shrills/The Cricket’s song”.(11-12) The scene shown in the next lines then turns to warm and peaceful as the cricket’s song “in warmth increasing ever,/And seem to one in drowsiness half lost, the Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.”(12-14) The person is half asleep and dreams of the grasshopper’s songs not only because of the stove’s warmth, but also because the cricket’s song creates a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. Even in a cold and lonely winter night, the music of nature can still bring warmth and the peacefulness to people and remind them of the lively summer in their minds.
Keats emphasizes the theme that nature’s beauty and the cycle of life is never dead by relating the grasshopper from summer and the cricket from winter. The tone of the poem is bright and full of the love and admiration for nature. Keats repeats twice in the poem that the poetry of earth is never dead. The deeper meaning of “the poetry of earth” is that the life and the beauty of nature are eternal. Although the birds and the grasshoppers disappear in the lone winter, the crickets carry on the music of nature and remind people of the lovely creatures in other seasons. Keats picks the toughest two seasons in nature to write and fill them with liveliness. For people, Keats may be suggesting that even at the worst circumstance, life can still be full of beauty. Also, no matter how the people and the environment change, the cycle of life still goes on and is ceasing never.