What is a simple summary of "The Grasshopper and the Cricket?"

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Keats's sonnet is a nature poem: it celebrates the ceaseless beauty of nature, in this case in terms of the song of two insects. Like most Romantic poets, Keats focused on the beauty of nature and its capacity to give joy.

The first eight lines of the poem are set in summer. In this part of the poem it is hot and even the songbirds are quiet. However, Keats focuses on the grasshopper. Even when it is very hot, the grasshopper is always singing: this is what Keats means when he writes that the grasshopper's "voice will run." The grasshopper enjoys life. He is always at ease and always having fun, "never done / With his delights."

The second part of the poem (the last six lines) moves to winter. Here the "poetry of earth" continues. The frost and cold might make it silent outside, but warmed by the stove, the cricket sings. This what Keats means when he writes that near the stove, "shrills / The Cricket's song." 

Finally, in the last two lines or final couplet, the poet muses that the song of the cricket reminds him of the song of the grasshopper. Because of the cricket, the poet remembers summer and imagines the grasshopper "among some grassy hills." 

lit24 | Student

John Keats' Sonnet "On the Grasshopper and the Cricket" was written on December 30th 1816. The message of this poem is foregrounded in these two lines:

"The poetry of earth is never dead" which is the opening line of the octave and the poem; and "The poetry of earth is ceasing never"which is the first line of the sestet. Keats asserts emphatically that no matter what the season, whether it is the peak of scorching summer or the bitterly cold winter season the music and 'poetry' of Mother Nature will be omnipresent and add vitality to the environment.

The octave and the sestet compare and contrast a  hot summer day and a bitterly cold and lonely winter evening. It's so hot that the usually chirpy and active birds have taken shelter amongst the shady trees and the whole countryside seems to be quiet, but just then one can hear the ever active grasshopper chirping away merrily in the hedges.

Similarly when one is cosily sheltered in the comfort of his home in front of a warm stove from the cold frosty winter and is beginning to feel lonely, the silence is shattered by the shrill chirpings of the cricket which adds meaning to the lonely winter evening without filling it up by reminding him of the music of the grasshopper in the summer months.