The Poetry of Earth: WBCHSE Class 12 English notes, answers

The Poetry of Earth is never dead
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Get notes, solutions, summary, textual questions and answers, extras, MCQs, and pdf of the poem The Poetry of Earth by John Keats which is part of (West Bengal Board) WBCHSE Class 12 English syllabus. However, the notes should only be treated for references and changes should be made according to the needs of the students.

Summary

The speaker begins by declaring that the “poetry of earth” is never dead. He explains what he means by this in the next several lines.

When the hot sun makes all the birds faint and hide in the cool shade of trees, a voice will still run from hedge to hedge around the newly mown meadow. This voice belongs to the grasshopper. The grasshopper leads the way in enjoying the luxuries of summer. He never tires of his delights. When he has had his fill of fun, he rests comfortably beneath some pleasant weed.

The poetry of earth never ceases, the speaker continues. On a cold winter evening when the frost has created silence all around, the song of the cricket shrills from the stove, increasing in warmth. To someone half lost in drowsiness, it seems like the song of the grasshopper coming from some grassy hills.

In essence, the speaker is saying that even in the height of summer when the birds are too hot to sing, the grasshopper’s voice rings out. And even in the dead of winter when frost has silenced the world, the cricket’s song can be heard. The songs of these insects represent the enduring poetry of the earth. No matter the season or circumstance, nature always finds a voice.

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Line by line explanation

The poetry of earth is never dead:

This opening line establishes the main theme that the beauty and poetry of the natural world on earth is constant and never dies.

When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,

This line uses imagery to convey a hot summer day when birds are exhausted and overwhelmed by the heat.

And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run

The birds seek relief from the heat by hiding in the shade of trees. Meanwhile, a voice (the grasshopper’s song) rings out.

From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;

The grasshopper’s voice echoes from hedge to hedge in a freshly mowed meadow.

That is the Grasshopper’- he takes the lead

Keats now directly identifies the voice as belonging to the grasshopper, who takes the foremost role on this summer day.

In summer luxury, — he has never done

The grasshopper luxuriates in the peak of summer, never ceasing his song.

With his delights; for when tired out with fun

When the grasshopper finally grows tired from his delightful activities.

He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.

He rests comfortably beneath the shade of an agreeable weed or wild plant.

The poetry of earth is ceasing never:

Again, Keats emphasizes earth’s continuous poetic beauty.

On a lone winter evening, when the frost

The setting shifts to a solitary winter night marked by frost.

Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills

The frost creates silence outdoors, while inside, from the stove, comes a shrill sound.

The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,

The shrill sound is identified as the cricket’s song, which grows warmer against the chill.

And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,

To one slowly dozing off by the stove.

The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

The cricket’s song brings to mind the grasshopper singing in grassy hills in summer. 

Glossary

Mead – A meadow or field, often used for grazing animals

New-mown – Recently cut or mowed

Hedge – A row of bushes forming a boundary line or fence

Grasshopper – A type of jumping insect known for making a chirping sound

Takes the lead – Is out in front, most prominent

Summer luxury – The lushness and indulgence of summer

Delights – Things that bring great pleasure

Weed – A wild plant, especially one growing where it is not wanted

Ceasing never – Never stopping, eternal

Lone – Solitary, without others

Evening – The latter part of the day, after noon

Frost – The ice crystals that form on surfaces when temperature is below freezing

Wrought – Worked, created

Silence – Complete quiet or stillness

Stove – A heating apparatus, like a furnace or fireplace

Shrills – Makes a high-pitched ringing or piercing sound

Cricket – An insect related to grasshoppers, known for chirping

Drowsiness – Sleepiness, lethargy

Half lost – Partially falling into unconsciousness

Grassy hills – Hills covered with grass or other low plants

Short/very short questions and answers

1. What is the poem about?

Answer: Keats suggests that the subject of the poem is the poetry/beauty of the earth.

2. Where do the birds go to escape the hot sun?

Answer: The birds hide in cooling trees to escape the hot sun.

3. What is the “voice” that will “run from hedge to hedge”?

Answer: The “voice” is the song/sound of the grasshopper.

4. What does the phrase “about the new-mown mead” indicate about the setting of the poem?

Answer: The phrase “new-mown mead” indicates the setting is a freshly mowed meadow.

5. Who does Keats identify as taking “the lead / In summer luxury”?

Answer: Keats identifies the grasshopper as taking the lead in summer luxury.

6. What does Keats suggest the grasshopper has never done?

Answer: Keats suggests the grasshopper has never done with/stopped his delights.

7. Where does the grasshopper rest when he gets tired out with fun?

Answer: The grasshopper rests “beneath some pleasant weed” when tired from fun.

8. What sound does the cricket make? What is the effect of this sound?

Answer: The cricket makes a shrill song/sound. The effect is that it breaks the wintry silence.

9. How does the cricket’s song change? What does this suggest?

Answer: The cricket’s song increases in warmth. This suggests the song is combatting the winter cold.

10. Whom does the cricket’s song seem to affect? What is that person’s state?

Answer: The song seems to affect someone falling into drowsiness. They are in a state of being half lost in sleep.

11. How does Keats connect the cricket and grasshopper in the final line? What relationship does this establish?

Answer: Keats makes the cricket’s song remind the drowsy person of the grasshopper’s song in summer. This connects summer and winter.

12. Discuss the imagery of nature evoked in the poem. How does this relate to the theme?

Answer: Keats uses vivid nature imagery of birds, trees, grasshoppers, crickets, meadows, etc. This relates to the theme of nature’s constant poetry.

13. Examine the shift that occurs between the octave and the sestet. What changes and why?

Answer: The octave describes summer while the sestet describes winter. This shift shows nature’s poetry is constant across seasons.

14. How does Keats explore the seasons in the poem?

Answer: He explores summer and winter to show nature’s beauty continues year-round. The seasons represent constancy.

15. How does Keats portray the passage of time in the poem?

Answer: He shows time passing through contrasting summer and winter. Also through the grasshopper tiring from fun.

16. What romantic qualities and themes are evident in the poem? Give examples.

Answer: Appreciation of nature, emotion over reason, focus on beauty/senses are romantic qualities seen through imagery.

17. In your view, what is the central message or purpose of the poem?

Answer: The central idea is that nature has enduring beauty and poetry despite seasons changing. 

Analytical/descriptive/long questions and answers

1. How does Keats portray the natural world in the poem? Cite specific examples that convey his descriptive style.

Answer: Keats portrays the natural world with an abundance of vivid, multi-sensory details that transport the reader right into the scene. We feel the oppressive heat as the birds grow “faint with the hot sun,” hear the grasshopper’s voice “run from hedge to hedge,” smell the freshly cut meadow in the “new-mown mead,” and see the shady “pleasant weed” the grasshopper rests under. The rich descriptions like cooling trees, singing insects, and verdant meadows convey the beauty, liveliness, and poetry of the natural world. Keats has a true gift for descriptive language and rendering natural scenes with remarkable resonance.

2. Analyze the poet’s use of imagery throughout the poem. How does this imagery contribute to the overall theme?

Answer: Keats employs nature-based imagery continuously throughout the poem including sun, birds, trees, meadows, grasshoppers, crickets, and the seasons. This bountiful imagery reinforces the constant poetry, vitality, and beauty of the earth across the seasons. Vivid images like the baking hot sun, singing insects, and frost-laden winter night engage the reader’s senses and imagination. The summer meadow and winter stove scenes work together to create a cyclical, living view of nature’s endless capacity for rebirth and poetic expression. The rich imagery leads the reader to Keats’ conclusion that the earth pulses with poetic inspiration at all times.

3. Examine the personification of the grasshopper and cricket. What human traits does Keats assign to them and why?

Answer: Keats personifies the grasshopper and cricket by giving them expressive human voices or songs and human tendencies like tiring from fun and resting. This choice to anthropomorphize the insects adds layers of lyricism and emotion to nature. It allows readers to relate to the grasshopper and cricket’s experience of delight, fatigue, and comfort. By paralleling human life and nature, Keats suggests all living things share fundamental experiences. Personification helps unify mankind and the natural world in the communal act of making art and perceiving beauty.

4. Discuss the shift that occurs between the octave and the sestet. What changes in scene and focus?

Answer: The octave establishes a summer day scene pulsing with natural energy – birds, sun, meadows, the grasshopper in his element. There is a mood of vigor and growth. When the sonnet moves to the sestet, the scene radically shifts to a winter evening with frost spreading silence over the outdoors. The cricket’s song by the stove is now the focus. The sestet conveys stillness and introspection, a turning inward away from summer’s outward display. But both octave and sestet convey nature’s poetry, showing how even winter’s quiet harbors creative inspiration as surely as summer’s activity.

5. How does Keats explore the passage of time and the changing of seasons in the poem? What is the significance of this?

Answer: Keats juxtaposes summer and winter imagery to convey the steady passage of time and cycling of the seasons. We visualize the grasshopper active in summer’s heat, then the cricket sheltered in winter’s cold. The insect imagery charts the progression from summer fertility to winter dormancy. For Keats, the seasons’ changes highlight nature’s continuity and rebirth. No matter the climate, the earth sustains its poetic spirit. The seasons’ inevitable cycle also parallels human life’s journey through growth, decline, death and rebirth in nature’s cradle.

6. Explain the meaning of the title “The Poetry of Earth.” What aspects of earth are described as poetic and why?

Answer: The title encapsulates Keats’ idea that the natural world expresses itself aesthetically and creatively, just as human poets do. He views the earth’s sights, sounds, and cycles as artistic manifestations. Nature requires no words to communicate profound beauty. For Keats, the sun, insects, and seasons speak their own poetic language. He suggests if we observe closely, we will discover poetry in earth’s diverse forms, just as verse resides in arranged syllables.

7. Compare and contrast how Keats portrays summer vs. winter. What similarities do the seasons share?

Answer: Summer represents fiery, outward passion with the blazing sun and the grasshopper singing under the open sky. Winter turns inward toward stillness and reflection by the secluded stove. But both brim with nature’s poetry – the grasshopper embodies summer’s creative fertility, while the cricket’s song warms the winter night with imagination. Despite surface contrasts, Keats reveals how summer’s heat and winter’s cold foster life and art equally.

8. Discuss the themes of nature, beauty, and the creative imagination in the poem.

Answer: For Keats, nature and beauty are inextricably entwined. He views nature as the source of all human art, just as the grasshopper and cricket’s songs arise from their surroundings. By paralleling the insects’ instinctive artistry with his own, Keats suggests humankind should seek unity with nature’s boundless imagination. If we embrace nature’s creativity within us, earth’s poetry will never cease.

9. Explain how the final couplet relates back to the opening lines. Why is this an effective conclusion?

Answer: The couplet evokes the singing grasshopper and summer meadow, echoing the opening scene. Keats ties the poem together by circling back to where it began. This cyclical effect mirrors the rotational seasons and reaffirms nature’s continuity. Ending with the grasshopper recurs to the theme that nature’s poetic essence persists eternally. It satisfies the reader’s desire for completion while reflecting one of Keats’ core ideas.

10. How does the poem reflect characteristics of the Romantic literary period?

Answer: Keats displays key romantic traits – exultation of nature, introspection, emotional sincerity, interest in the common man over nobility. Imaginative use of imagery and verse to express feelings is another romantic feature. Exalting individualism and inner truth over formal rules also reflects romanticism. Keats’ intuitive connection to nature aligns with romanticism’s spiritual themes.

11. In your view, what is Keats’ essential message about nature in the poem? Support your interpretation.

Answer: I interpret Keats’ core message to be that nature intrinsically sustains beauty and poetry within itself through the seasons. He suggests if we open our hearts and imaginations to nature’s rhythms, we will discover constant creative inspiration. Even winter’s barrenness harbors profound creativity. Keats seems to be reminding humanity of our innate connection to the natural world, which uplifts the soul with artistry and wisdom if we listen closely. He inspires reverence for the earth and its lessons.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

1. What does the poet suggest is the subject of the poem in the opening line?

A. Nature’s cruelty B. Earth’s consistent poetry C. The changing seasons D. Birdsong

Answer: B. Earth’s consistent poetry

2. What does the poet use to convey the intensity of the summer heat?

A. The “cooling trees” B. The birds “faint” with the sun C. The “pleasant weed” D. The “new-mown mead”

Answer: B. The birds “faint” with the sun

3. Where do the birds take refuge from the summer heat?

A. In their nests B. Near the stove C. Under pleasant weeds D. In cooling trees

Answer: D. In cooling trees

4. What is the “voice” that echoes through the meadow?

A. The poet’s voice B. The wind C. The grasshopper’s song D. The singing cricket

Answer: C. The grasshopper’s song

5. What aspect of summer does the grasshopper represent?

A. Tranquility B. Exuberance C. Simplicity D. Heat

Answer: B. Exuberance

6. What does the grasshopper eventually do when he grows tired?

A. Die B. Sleep under a tree C. Stop singing D. Migrate

Answer: B. Sleep under a tree

7. What claim does the poet repeat about the “poetry of earth”?

A. It is immortal B. It is neglected C. It is mournful D. It goes unnoticed

Answer: A. It is immortal

8. Which of the following scenarios does the poet associate with winter?

A. Morning dew B. Chirping crickets C. Simmering heat D. Silent frost

Answer: D. Silent frost

9. Where does the cricket sing from?

A. The meadow B. The pleasant weed C. The stove D. The hedge

Answer: C. The stove

10. How does the cricket’s song change as the poem progresses?

A. It decreases B. It grows warmer C. It stops altogether D. It turns to melancholy

Answer: B. It grows warmer

11. What is the effect of the cricket’s song on the listener?

A. It lulls them to sleep B. It reminds them of grief C. It alerts them to danger D. It fills them with joy

Answer: A. It lulls them to sleep

12. How does the poet connect the grasshopper and cricket?

A. They are the same insect B. They sing together C. The cricket’s song recalls the grasshopper’s D. They migrate to warmer climates

Answer: C. The cricket’s song recalls the grasshopper’s

13. Which literary device does the poet employ by giving human traits to insects?

A. Alliteration B. Rhyme C. Personification D. Simile

Answer: C. Personification

14. Which romantic quality is expressed through the poet’s vivid sensory descriptions?

A. Reason B. Order C. Imagination D. Control

Answer: C. Imagination

15. How does the poet’s portrayal of summer differ from his portrayal of winter?

A. Summer is lively, winter still B. Summer is harsh, winter gentle C. Summer is brief, winter enduring D. Summer inspires, winter stifles

Answer: A. Summer is lively, winter still

16. Which word best describes the overall tone of the poem?

A. Melancholy B. Critical C. Celebratory D. Ironic

Answer: C. Celebratory

17. What does the title suggest about the natural world?

A. It is like poetry B. It cannot be understood C. It confuses the senses D. It has no artistic merit

Answer: A. It is like poetry

18. Which theme is conveyed through the changing seasons?

A. Nature’s cruelty B. Life’s brevity C. Earth’s timelessness D. Reason’s importance

Answer: C. Earth’s timelessness

19. What is the poem’s key message about nature?

A. It is inhospitable B. It rewards endurance C. It reflects human emotion D. Its beauty always remains

Answer: D. Its beauty always remains

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