The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket

by Yasunari Kawabata

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What do the grasshoppers and cricket symbolize?


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John Keats’ “On the Grasshopper and Cricket” is a poem that muses how the “Poetry of earth is never dead,” an observation the speaker makes in line 2.

The speaker uses the grasshopper and the cricket to illustrate ways in which this poetry is “ceasing never.” From his perspective, the world is beautiful and nourishing to the soul all of the time.

The grasshopper represents the energy of summer in the poem. Keats contrasts the “faint with the hot sun” birds with the grasshopper’s boundless energy when he says, “he has never done/ With his delights.” This line characterizes the grasshopper as a joyful creature who enjoys the “luxury” of summer. This shows that the grasshopper represents a lust for life.

The cricket is described within the context of winter time. “When the frost/ Has wrought a silence,” the cricket can be heard playing its song behind a warm stove. The speaker says the song has an ever-increasing warmth that echoes the warmth of the stove, which impacts its listener (“in drowsiness”) by giving him or her the impression of the summer. Therefore, the cricket is analogous to the grasshopper in its significance. The cricket allows people to be reminded of the beauty of the world, which one enjoys in the summer, that they might forget in the dark, cold days of winter. The cricket could be a reminder of beauty and happiness, just like the grasshopper.

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