Grasshopper Poetry

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

I am home again from visiting my children. I can relate to the grasshopper a little, as I rest at ease in the pleasant warmth of my town.  Normally I complain about the lack of summery evenings here, but at least most of the days I can bake a little in my garden without wearing a jacket.

At noon today when I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge the water itself was not to be seen below, the fog was so thick on San Francisco Bay. But this evening at Vespers everyone was dressed all summery, and several neighbors have parties in their back yards tonight, and the voices coming over the fences are telling of fun.

Here is a grasshopper making his sound.

I hope you also are not done with your seasonal delights. Chirp on!

6 thoughts on “Grasshopper Poetry

  1. I don’t know where you are, precisely, but now I know where you are well enough to grow a bit nostalgic. I lived in Berkeley for three years, and enjoyed nothing so much as the view from the top of the Berkeley Hills, watching the fog slip over, under, and around the bridge. The Lighthouse restaurant in Sausalito, Muir Woods, the City — wonderful memories, all. I certainly couldn’t afford to live there now, so I’m glad I had the opportunity then.

    Something about Keats’s poem tickled me today. I’ve been thinking about Shakespeare’s passage that begins, “The quality of mercy is not strained…” When I read the first line of the grasshopper poem, it seemed famliar. In a few minutes, I realized it’s the rhythm. The two passages are nearly identical in that sense.

    I have a new Canon camera, and never have tried the video. Perhaps I’ll read the instructions, and then go in search of a grasshopper!

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    1. Ah, Linda, that’s it! – That line and its rhythm are why I felt that I must have read Keats’s poem many times before, when it was actually Shakespeare that was familiar. I’m so glad you noticed and told me.

      I don’t live very near Berkeley, though I lived there for a brief period after I was born, and would visit my grandmother as a child, so I get very nostalgic about the feeling of the ocean influence when it mimics those early memories. You might like to read this post of mine about that city https://gretchenjoanna.com/2013/10/31/how-long-will-the-rocks-of-berkeley-last/ or some others with the tag “Berkeley.” It makes me happy that we share a familiarity with that “view from the top of the Berkeley Hills.” 🙂

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  2. I love a well-crafted sonnet, and that one is just lovely. Thank you, Mr. Keats!

    I’m trying to even imagine a “lack of summery evenings.” I would love to never have a hot, humid, buggy, sticky evening — ever! I’m so very weary of southern summer already, and we have two months to go. I always think it will be cooler in September, but it never is. It’s a baking heat that exhausts. Adam comes in from farm work in the early morning just dripping with the humidity. I would take some of your evenings!

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