Click on the pictures to see enlarged versions of the images.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Grasshopper and the Cricket

(Grasshopper by Raoul Dufy,
1877-1953, French artist)

One night in December, 1816, the poet Leigh Hunt and his friend John Keats heard the chirping of a cricket by the hearth in Hunt’s cottage. The two men challenged each other to write a sonnet about this.

Who won?


Green little vaulter in the sunny grass,
Catching your heart up at the feel of June, —
Sole voice that’s heard amidst the lazy noon
When even the bees lag at the summoning brass;
And you, warm little housekeeper, who class
With those who think the candles come too soon,
Loving the fire, and with your tricksome tune
Nick the glad silent moments as they pass!
O sweet and tiny cousins, that belong,
One to the fields, the other to the hearth,
Both have your sunshine; both, though small, are strong
At your clear hearts; and both seem given to earth
To sing in thoughtful ears this natural song, —
In doors and out, summer and winter, mirth.

~ Leigh Hunt (1784-1859), English essayist, critic, and poet


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 (1795-1821), English Romantic poet

No comments: