September 3, 1851

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Why was there never a poem on the cricket? Its creak seems to me to be one of the most prominent and obvious facts in the world, and the least heeded. In the report of a man’s contemplations I look to see somewhat answering to this sound.

The Cricket

By William Cowper (1731-1800)

Little inmate, full of mirth,

Chirping on my kitchen hearth,

Whereso’er be thine abode,

Always harbinger of good,

Pay me for thy warm retreat

With a song more soft and sweet;

In return thou shall receive

Such a strain as I can give. 

Thus thy praise shall be express’d,

Inoffensive, welcome guest!

While the rat is on the scout,

And the mouse with curious snout,

With what vermin else infest

Every dish, and spoil the best;

Frisking thus before the fire,

Thou hast all thine heart’s desire.

Though in voice and shape they be

Form’d as if akin to thee,

Thou surpassest, happier far,

Happiest grasshoppers that are;

Theirs is but a summer’s song,

Thine endures the winter long,

Unimpaired, and shrill, and clear,

Melody throughout the year.

Neither night nor dawn of day

Puts a period to thy play:

Sing, then — and extend thy span

Far beyond the date of man.

Wretched man, whose years are spent

In repining discontent,

Lives not, aged though he be,

Half a span, compared with thee.