The Grasshopper and the Cricket
  • Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 6.27.59 PM
    Did you know that John Keats pronounced his own name with such a thick Cockney accent that his friend Leigh Hunt nicknamed him “Junkets” — “Junkets” evidently being the way “John Keats” sounded coming out of Keats’s own mouth.

    On December 30th, 1816, Leigh Hunt challenged his twenty-one-year-old friend Junkets to a sonnet-writing contest. The subject-matter, they both agreed, would be “the grasshopper and cricket.”

    They gave each other fifteen minutes to complete their poems, and this is what they came up with:

    On the Grasshopper and Cricket — by John Keats

    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.

    To the Grasshopper and the Cricket — by Leigh Hunt

    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;
    Oh 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 were sent on earth
    To sing in thoughtful ears this natural song:
    Indoors and out, summer and winter,–Mirth.

    The question I ask you: whom do you think won?

    September 17th, 2014 | journalpulp | 13 Comments | Tags: , , , , ,

About The Author

Ray Harvey

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I've worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, copyeditor, and more. I've written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I've gone or what I've done to earn my living, there's always been literature and learning at the core of my life.

13 Responses and Counting...

  • Dave Zoby 09.17.2014

    there’s no question here: Keats

  • Really?

    I like Leigh Hunt’s.

  • Keats. These hacks were always challenging the great poets to write poems. And they always came up short. Wasn’t there some urologist who challenged Shelley to a write-off, another famous duel of feathered pens? Shelley wrote “Ozymandias”, and the other guy, well…he just kind of floundered. You would do well, my friend, to read “Ozymandias.” I think the themes speak to you specifically, or Pacifically. Not a day goes by wherein I do not think of that poem.

  • Urologist? I think it was a neurologist, with a good rack.

    Thank you for dropping by.

  • Hunt’s poem is an example of early Flarf, if you don’t mind me saying.

  • Flarf? Oh, come now!

    Did you just learn that word?

  • Junkets’s poem is more philosophical and cohesive, but Leigh Hunt’s poem has lines more charming: e.g. “Green little vaulter in the sunny grass”

  • with that accent it would have been fascinating to hear him read those great poems. sadly i was born a few years after he passed

  • A few years? My dear fellow, I’ve told you a trillion times not to exaggerate.

    It’s good to see you.

    Thank you for dropping by.

  • Being challenged by the fellow poet keats had given us a masterpiece. But personally I feel that the piece written by Hunt is also excellent.

  • Rabi, I completely agree. Well said, friend.

    Thank you for dropping by.

  • It’s not “whom do you think won,” but “who do you think won” — just sayin’.

  • You’re being pedantic, and you’re not really right anyway.

    “Whom” is perfectly acceptable. Do you know why?

    You can use “who” if it’s the first word in the sentence, but whom here is the object, it is hardly incorrect.

Leave a Reply

* Name, Email, and Comment are Required