This beautiful sonnet by Keats celebrates the life force in even the smallest forms of life— the grasshopper and the cricket— throughout the seasons.
While Keats' famous "Ode to a Nightingale" is one of the most famous poems in English, an ars poetica about the power of poetry, with the iconic bird a symbol itself of poetry, in this poem, the humble insects become the voice of both the earth and of poetry.
The sublime, the beautiful, can be found everywhere.
Keats' own life was difficult and short; he watched his father, mother, and brother die. A doctor himself, he knew that he soon would die of TB, which he did at 25.
But this poem is full of hope and faith in the earth, in life, and in the power to find and make meaning and beauty anywhere and at any time.
On the Grasshopper and Cricket
BY JOHN KEATS
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.
Prompts from Keats's Poetry of the Earth poem:
Write a poem or prose using the phrase "the poetry of the earth." What does that phrase mean to you?
Use these six words in a piece of writing: grasshopper, increase, drowsy, silence, faint, delight
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