THE POETRY OF EARTH
THE POETRY OF EARTH
John Keats wrote the sonnet, The Poetry of Earth on the 30th December 1816. The original title of the sonnet is ‘On the Grasshopper and Cricket’. From the date of composition, it is clear that the sonnet was composed in winter. The sonnet is one of the earliest products of the poet. But it has all the charm of Keatsean poetic artistry. The sonnet deals with the permanence of poetry on earth. Poetry is a thing of beauty and so it is a joy forever. As an ardent lover of poetry Keats finds infinite joy and delight in the lovely forms of nature.
Like Wordsworth he does not philosophize nature, nor does he intellectualise beauty like Shelley. Hardly he supernaturalizes nature like Coleridge. Keats simply sees things as they delight his senses. He is essentially a sensuous poet. There were moments of distress in his life. Time and again he was to undergo stress and strain of life. But the poet never lost sight of his devoted cult, the cult of beauty. Beauty was truth and truth beauty to him.
John Keats wrote the sonnet in winter. The original title of the sonnet was On the Grasshopper and Cricket. The grasshopper and the cricket are two tiny insects. The first one sings in summer. The second one warms winter with its continuous music. Anyway, these two creatures of the earth create music and make the earth’s music everflowing. The poet establishes the permanence of poetry through their songs. The music stands for poetry. The main sentiment of the poem is that the poetry of earth is never dead. And hence The Poetry of Earth is chosen the title of the poem. It is appropriate.
Earth is full of poetry. The poetry of earth is manifested through its music. Earth experiences the continuous change of seasons. But the change can’t affect the music. In summer days the sun is bright and blazing. The birds are fatigued. They refuse to sing. Just then comes forward to the tiny grasshopper. It takes the lead in summer luxury. It moves and makes music. Tired of singing incessantly it takes rest beneath some tender weeds. Now summer leaves the earth. Appears winter. The earth is cold. Frost deepens evening silence. Men enjoy the warmth of the hearth. It seems life is all dull and cheerless.
But the music of earth does not cease. The little cricket starts singing. The cold earth is warmed by the shrill, sound of the cricket. One who seems lost in trance beside the hearth is led to imagine the cricket’s song to be a continuation of the song of grasshopper. The music of the earth is the ceaseless celebration through the cycle of seasons.
A CRITICAL ANALYSIS :
The Poetry of Earth is a moving sonnet of Keats. A passionate singer of beauty, Keats has an exquisite sense of the luxuries. He has essentially an artist’s view of life. Nothing more, nothing less. His present sonnet captures his outlook on life and art. Keats here speaks of two seasons. In the background of change of the countenance of nature, he observes the eternity of poetry. He is eager to celebrate the poetry of the earth. The earth with all its trivial objects and beings never forgets to express its joy and wonder. No change affects the soulful music of the earth.
Earth’s poetry is eternal. In summer birds may refuse to sing. But grasshopper carries on the music of the earth. So is the case with winter. In winter the atmosphere is, not at all encouraging for music. But earth’s music is on. This time cricket makes the earth musical. All this suggests that earth’s poetry knows no break.
As regards the form, the sonnet reaches the high-water mark of poetic excellence. It is a Petrarchan Sonnet-divided in two parts, Octave and Sestet. What is stated and argued in the first part is further elaborated in the second part. There are some delicate phrases like summer luxury, drowsiness half lost etc. in the poem. The poem is simple and suggestive. This is the real charm of this excellent sonnet.
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