To A Skylark: Poem by P. B. Shelley - Summary & Analysis

Also Read

TO A SKYLARK

Text

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing, still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
O'er which clouds are bright'ning,
Thou dost float and run;
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of Heaven,
In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight,

Keen as are the arrows
Of that silver sphere,
Whose intense lamp narrows
In the white dawn clear
Until we hardly see—we feel that it is there.

All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud,
As, when night is bare,
From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and Heaven is overflowed.

What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody. Like a Poet hidden
In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden,
Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not:

Like a Hgh-born maiden
In a palace-tower,
Soothing her love-laden
Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:

Like a glow-worm golden
In a dell of dew,
Scattering unbeholden
Its aereal hue
Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view!

Like a rose embowered
In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflowered,
Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet heavy-winged thieves:

Sound of vernal showers
On the twinkling grass,
Rain-awakened flowers,
All that ever was
Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass:

Teach us, Sprite or Bird,
What sweet thoughts are thine:
I have never heard
Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.

Chorus Hymeneal,
Or triumphal chant,
Matched with thine would be all
But an empty vaunt,
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.

What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy strain?.
What fields, or waves, or mountains?
What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?

With thy clear keen joyance
Languor cannot be:
Shadow of annoyance
Never came near thee:
Thou lovest—but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.

Waking or asleep,
Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep
Titan we mortals dream,
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?

We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught:
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

Yet if we could scorn
Hate, and pride, and fear;
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.

Better than all Measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scomer of the ground!

Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow
The world should listen then—as I am listening now.

SUMMARY & ANALYSIS

INTRODUCTION

      To A Skylark, perhaps the most famous of Shelley's poems, was written in July 1820, and published with Prometheus Unbound in the same year. At the time of its composition the Shelleys were staying in the Gisbornes' house who were on a visit to England. Mrs. Shelley's note is worth quoting here! "In the Spring (of 1820) we spent a week or two near Leghorn borrowing the house of some friends, who were absent on a journey to England.—It was a beautiful summer evening, while wandering among the lanes, whose myrtle hedges were the bowers of the fire-flies, that we heard the caroling of the skylark, which inspired one of the most beautiful of his poems." The idea of the Skylark singing in the sky to represent a spiritual power that can spread its influence through the world may have come from Plato. Shelley is said to have translated Phaedrus where the soul is seen as growing real wings and mounting aloft on them.

SUMMARY

      The poet says that the Skylark, that pours forth from heaven a flood of spontaneous melody and soars higher and higher, can never be a bird. It is for him a joyful spirit that begins its upward flight at sunrise, and becomes at evening an invisible song just like an invisible star in the day-light.

      Its notes are compared to the keen beams of the moon which contracts by and by so that its presence is rather felt than seen. Its song resembles the flood of light which the moon pours forth from behind a solitary cloud on a clear night.

      The poet is at a loss to know what the bird really is. Its song may be compared to the bright rain drops falling from rainbowed clouds. The bird lost in the sunlight may be compared to a poet hidden in the light of thought, or to a high-born maiden making music to console her love-lorn heart, or to a glow-worm from which emanates its bluish light concealing itself in grass and flowers, or to a rose blown completely by the wind so that its perfume is spread on all sides.

      The poet says that the skylark's song does not stand any comparison with things which we know. When compared with it, all gay, clear and fresh things pale into insignificance. Marriage and triumphal songs dwindle into nothingness in comparison with the Skylark's song.

      The poet wonders what is the unknown source of inspiration of the bird's song. Its ecstasy indicates that it does not know anything of the satiety that destroys all human happiness. It must be in tire know of something more concerning death than we know, for, otherwise, its song could not be so merry and distinct. Sorrow is mingled with the very best of human joys. Even if men are free from hate, pride, fear and sorrow, they cannot think of attaining such joy as that of the Skylark. The poet wants to experience half the gaiety of the bird and then, he would sing with such excellent poetic ecstasy that the people of the world would listen to him.


CRITICAL APPRECIATION AND ANALYSIS

      Theme: In To a Skylark, Shelley records the thoughts evoked in him by a singing Skylark. He finds a contrast between the Skylark's easy movements and fluent song, and man's clumsiness in these spheres. The poet is led to feel that the Skylark's superiority over man lies in its superhuman talents. Desmond King-Hele writes, "The theme is thus a conceit, not an eternal truth; but Shelley contrives the fiction so persuasively that we gladly suspend disbelief". As regards the structure of the thought in this poem, it bears significant resemblance to that of the Ode to the West Wind. Both these poems open with a splendid description and a series of beautiful natural images. Just as the strength and speed of the West Wind are contrasted with the weakness of the poet, so the "clear keen joyance" of the Skylark is contrasted with the pains and agonies of mankind. Like the Ode, this Poem too ends on a note of yearning, this time not for energy and intellectual power, but for pure rapture and unbounded joy.

      Spontaneity: To a Skylark, like Shelley's other lyrics, shows a spontaneity typical of the poet. The flow of the poem is as effortless as that of a stream. The emotion that has inspired the poem is genuine and has come from first-hand experience. The joyful singing of the Skylark has indeed inspired in the poet's mind an overflowing yearning for ecstasy. This intensity of passion has added considerably to the lyric splendor of the poem. The poem is a superb example of Shelley's musical genius. "Just as in The Cloud" a critic observes, "Shelley gives life-like form to his subject, following it through its manifold changes of fair weather and storm, so here, while recording the thoughts which the lark’s song awakens, he reproduces in words the melody itself, clothing it in a Stanza which corresponds, in its first four lines, to the crescendo of the bird's song, and in the prolonged last line to the 'rain of melody' which is its climax". The poem is melodious because it is not just a poem but the skylark's song itself translated by the poet into Stanzas.

      Images and Figures of Speech: The poem contains a series of images and figures of speech that have added to the beauty and charm of the poem. The Skylark is described as a "blithe Spirit" that pours its heart "from heaven, or near it". It is likened to "a cloud of fire", and it, "singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest". The Skylark soars and sings "Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun". It remains unseen "Like a star of Heaven/In the broad daylight". The bird is then compared to a poet hidden in the light of thought, a high-born maiden in a palace tower, a golden glow-worm scattering its "aerial hue" unseen among the flowers and grass, and an imseen rose giving out its sweet smell. Each figure of speech used in the poem is a picture in itself and contributes to the charming sensuousness of the poem.

      A Happy Poem: To a Skylark is a happy poem. Desmond King-Hele thus comments: "To a Skyark is very easy to read, apart from Stanzas 4 and 5, which are a little obscure, and at the same time rich in undertones.....Shelley praises the lark in Stanza after Stanza, contrasting its carefree life with Man's uneasy blundering. We, unlike the lark, 'look before and after': Hamlet's phrase is used in its strongest sense, to distinguish men from creatures which are haunted by neither past nor future. The lark has no worries—no reviewers, slanderers or creditors trouble him—and men heed his song. Shelley, volatile in fancy as any bird, would gladly change places.....The Skylark, like The Cloud, is a fine invention. It is not so "unattached" not so pure a lyric as its predecessor; for whenever Shelley exaggerates the lark's good luck he is obliquely emphasizing Man's troubles, and in particular his own. But since it is the lark, not Man, who is in the limelight, the Skylark ranks as one of the happiest of escape-poems, a pleasant tonic after the seriousness of Prometheus Unbound and The Cenci."

EXPLANATIONS WITH CRITICAL COMMENTS LINE BY LINE

      LI. 11-15. In the golden lightning.....just begun. In his famous lyric, Shelley describes the ecstatic music of the skylark as it soars to the skies. The poet has beautifully represented the upward soaring of the bird. The bird sings in an ecstasy of spontaneous melody and pours its full heart "in profuse strains of unpremeditated art". In the lines quoted, Shelley represents the bird as soaring in the clear blue atmosphere of the sky. It springs from the earth like "a cloud of fire" and in the golden light of the setting sun, when the clouds are suffused with that soft light, the skylark is seen rising higher and higher and pouring its rich melody. The poet feels that the skylark is not a bird at all. It is a spirit of melody, a disembodied spirit of delight and joy, floating in the upper air, and its flight is compared to a race, which has just begun.

      The ethereal quality of Shelley's poetry and his fondness for abstractions are beautifully illustrated in these lines. Shelley delights in images of loveliness which, created out of his poetic fancy, have an extraordinary appeal to the reader's imagination. The skylark is hardly a bird in this poem. There is nothing earthly in the images which Shelley employs to describe the skylark. It scorns the ground; it is a spirit of sheer delight, and an embodiment of joy and harmony.

      LI. 31-35. What thou art.....rain of melody. Shelley's Skylark, it has been said, is not a bird, but a spirit of joy. In this poem, the poet employs the Skylark as a symbol of musical ecstasy. All the images in the poem merely strengthen the ethereal quality of the bird. The Skylark is not a denizen of the earth; its home is the upper air; it consorts with the sun, and the moon, the clouds and the stars. Its soaring flight is symbolic of its upward aspiration. It scorns the earth and loses itself in the clear atmosphere of the sky. Its music is ecstatic and pure. It pours down its melody in "profuse strairis of impremeditated joy". The poet cannot say whether the Skylark is a mere bird or a spirit of delight. He is baffled by the spiritual quality of its music and the spontaneous profusion of its song, as it soars and sings and loses itself m the atmosphere of the upper air. In the lines quoted, Shelley wonders if the Skylark is a bird at all, whether its song can be compared to anything that we know of on earth. There is nothing like its music on earth. It is so rich and spontaneous, that the poet can compare it only to the showers which fall from the rainbow clouds. The song of the Skylark is poured down with such spontaneous ease that it looks as though the bird is showering on earth a "rain of melody". Like the gentle showers that fall from the clouds, the song of the Skylark soothes and gladdens the heart. There is nothing like it. By employing a series of beautiful images, Shelley conveys to the reader the idea that the music of the bird is something bright, ethereal and ecstatic.

      LI. 36-40. Like a poet hidden.....it heeded not. Shelley calls the Skylark not a bird, but "blithe spirit". He sees the bird soaring into the sky and listens enraptured to the flood of harmony that it pours out from above. Its music is not only sweet, but is poured out "in profuse strains of unpremeditated art". Soon the bird itself becomes invisible, but its song is heard, and it ravishes the ears of the poet. The poet thinks that the Skylark is not a bird at all but a spirit of delight. It is "unbodied joy". It scorns the ground and merges itself with the pure atmosphere of the upper regions. In a series of wonderful similes, the poet brings out this idea. In the lines quoted, Shelley compares the Skylark to a poet who is absorbed in lonely contemplation and pours out his soul in spontaneous poetry. Like the poet, the skylark is surrounded by a beautiful aura of pure thought. It is invisible to mortal vision, and its presence is felt only by the sweet flood of harmony which it releases from heaven. Like the poet, the bird sings songs 'unbidden' and its music, like the outpouring of a sensitive and contemplative soul, lifts the curtain from the hidden glory and mystery of life and helps us to share the hopes and fears of the singer. Shelley had a high conception of the function of poetry. Poetry can lift the veil from the hidden beauty of life and bind mankind in a beautiful chain of mutual sympathy and affection. It may be recalled that Shelley in his famous Defence of Poetry, compares the poet to a nightingale singing in the dark until the world is moved to love and sympathy. Only poetry can re-establish in the world the eternal law of love. Shelley's revolutionary idealism made him a staunch believer in the high destiny of poetry. The Skylark in this poem is a symbol of man’s aspiring vision. It soars higher and higher until it is lost in the purity of the upper air, and its music is so spontaneously delightful that it can move the listeners to unbounded joy.

      LI. 41-45. Like a high-born.....flows her bower. The exquisite flood of harmony which the Skylark pours out from heaven inspires the poet. The bird has soared so high that it is hardly visible and its presence is felt only by the music which the poet hears. The Skylark at once becomes the symbol of unbounded joy and delight; it is a spirit of ecstasy whose music has the power to move and inspire the listener. Shelley employs a series of beautiful similes to bring out the ethereal quality of the Skylark's music. He compares it to a poet, and now in these lines, he compares its song to the sweet strains of love-lorn music which a high-born maiden sings as she sits alone in her faraway palace-tower and soothes her love-afflicted soul by her music. The sweetness of her song overflows her bower, while she herself is invisible to the listener.

      The picture of the love-lorn princess, in her lonely confinement in a far-away "palace-tower" singing sweet love-songs to soothe her soul, takes us into a world of romance and wonder. The strains of sweet music which overflow her solitary bower are most appropriately compared to the song of the skylark which floats down to the earth through vast space. In both cases we near only the song, while the singers are invisible.

      LI. 66-70. Chorus Hymeneal.....there is some hidden. The skylark in Shelley's poem is not an earthly bird, but a spirit of joy and rapture. It scorns the ground and soars into the pure atmosphere of heaven until it becomes invisible. But though the bird is invisible its pure ecstatic music overflows heaven and earth. The poet listens to it and says that he has never heard such a flood of "rapture divine." He is sure that the Skylark is not a bird at all, but a "blithe spirit". It can never know the sorrows and pains of the earth. Its song seems to be an endless outpouring of delight, and the bird itself is an "unbodied joy", a symbol of ideal beauty and pure delight. Shelley's own search for idea love and happiness is perfectly fulfilled by this bird of his poetic creation. Hence its music is purer than any music that we know of on earth. It is more joyous than any marriage song that is sung on this earth, or any music that is sung on the occasion of joyous festivities. The poet says that even the sweetest earthly music is but an empty ’vaunt’ when compared to the joyous rapture of the skylark. Earthly music, however sweet, is imperfect because there is some hidden want in it, while the skylark's song is perfect in its joyousness and leaves us completely satisfied.

      LI. 86-90. We look before.....that tell of saddest thought. The song of the Skylark, which is poured out "in profuse strains of unpremeditated art", is a song of unending delight. Shelley says that the bird is "unbodied joy" and that its music is more sweet than "chorus Hymeneal" or "triumphal chant". The bird is a symbol of "clear keen joyance". It knows no languor or pain such as men experience on earth. No shadow of annoyance or regret can ever come near the bird. In the pure atmosphere of the sky, the bird soars and sings and pours out its love and joy in divine rapture. The skylark knows nothing of sorrow; it is a spirit of unalloyed happiness and love. Therefore its joy is "more true and deep" than we mortals dream. Shelley then contrasts the Skylark's perennial happiness with the life of men on earth. In the passage quoted, the poet describes the life of men on earth. Our happiness is often married by memories of past afflictions and sorrows, and the painful uncertainty of what is to come in the future. Man is a creature that looks "before and after". He is subject to weariness and satiety, so that he can never enjoy happiness perennially. But the Skylark knows no satiety. It is the very embodiment of perennial delight, ever fresh and full of zest and unwearied in its enjoyment of happiness. Human life, on the other hand, is subject to recurrent spells of frustration and pain. Our earthly joys are only temporary and fade away into nothingness after some time. Disappointments and sorrows embitter our lives. We think of some past unhappiness and are troubled about the future. Pleasure and pain are part of our mortal destiny. But the Skylark lives in the realm of never-ending delight. Shelley makes the Skylark a symbol of eternal happiness and perfect 'joyance'.

      Shelley was ever in search of ideal happiness and love. In this poem, he employs the Skylark to represent and embody his highest aspiration towards an ideal state of happiness.

ANNOTATIONS

      L. 1. blithe—The skylark is not a bird, but, the spirit of joy. L. 2. Bird thou never wert—To the poet, the Skylark is hardly an earthly bird, but the embodied spirit of ecstasy, of absolute joyousness. Wordsworth's poem on the same describes the skylark as "Ethereal Minstrel, pilgrim of the sky." L. 3. that from Heaven, or near it—It is pointed out that it is untrue to speak of the Skylark as if it were always out of sight. Shelley's Skylark does not seem to be an earthly bird. It is a spirit. Wordsworth says that the song of the skylark is heard from "the last point of vision." L. 4. pourest thy full heart—The bird sings with spontaneity and ease. It literally pours out its heart in song. L. 5. In profuse strains of unpremeditated art—The poet refers to the spontaneous flow of music which comes from the Skylark. There is nothing artificial in its music; it overflows profusely from its heart. LI. 6-7. Higher still and higher...springest—The skylark soars up in the sky, until at last it is no longer visible to the human eye. As Wordsworth says, it flies "to the last point of vision" and even beyond. L. 8. Like a cloud of fire—The skylark springs from the earth towards heaven like a flame of fire. L. 9. The blue deep thou wingest—The skylark flies over the deep blue ocean. L. 10. And singing...ever singest—The singing and soaring of the bird are simultaneous. It sings as it soars and soars as it sings. Shelley brings out vividly the continuous music of the bird and its upward flight. LI. 11-12. In the golden lightning of the sunken sun. The skylark soars high when the sun is setting and the sky is suffused with golden light. L. 13. O'er which clouds are brightning—The clouds are illuminated by the golden light of the setting sun. L. 14. Thon dost float and run—the skylark seems to float in the sky and run as if it is running a race. L. 15. Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun—The bird is a disembodied spirit of joy. It has nothing earthly about it. It gets ready for a race towards heaven, and soars upwards with great speed. LI. 16-17. The pale purple even melts around the flight—Evening gathers round the bird as it soars and the sky and earth are filled with darkness. Evening is described as "pale and purple." LI. 18-20. Like a star of Heaven thou art unseen—The skylark soon becomes invisible, like a star which cannot be seen in broad daylight. L. 20. Yet I hear thy shrill delight—The skylark soon becomes invisible, but the poet still hears its song of ecstasy. The bird is a spirit, invisible, yet its music is distinctly heard.

      LI. 21-22. Keen as are the arrows/ Of that silver sphere—The "silver sphere" is the star whose beams are as keen as arrows, when we try to see it in broad daylight. They dazzle our eyes. LI. 23-25. Whose intense lamp narrows...that it is there—The star is a point of intense light— a bright speck in heaven, As daylight spreads, the star becomes rapidly invisible, but we know it is there. LI. 26-27. All the earth and air....is loud—The whole Stanza, LI. 26-30, is beautiful. The poet describes the overflow of the Skylark's song over the earth and in heaven. The song fills the earth and heaven. LI. 28-30. As, when night is bare...Heaven is overflowed—When the night is clear (without clouds) the moon sends out her rays through a solitary cloud and earth and heaven are filled with its soft light. Similarly the song of the Skylark spreads its melody over the clear sky and the earth below. L. 30. The moon rains out her beams—The moon sheds its soft light and the sky and the earth overflow with its soft and cool light. The skylark's song is compared to moonlight. L. 31. What thou art we know riot—It is difficult for the poet to describe the skylark. He is sure that it is not a bird. It is a spirit, to describe which the poet has to employ aerial images, for earthly ones are not sufficient to bring out its true nature and shape. LI. 33. From rainbow clouds—from clouds which are brightened by the rainbow. L. 33-35. from rainbow clouds...a rain of melody—The drops of rain that fall from rain clouds are not so bright as the rain of harmony which the skylark scatters from the sky. LI. 36-37. Like a poet hidden in the light of thought—The Skylark is compared here to a poet who is absorbed in the light of his own fancies. The poet's world is a secret world of thoughts and fancies, which is hidden from men. He is completely absorbed in the privacy of his thoughts. L. 38. singing hymns unbidden—The poet's songs flow out from his heart with great spontaneity. The following passage from Shelley's Defence of Poetry will explain this idea further: "A poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness and sings to cheer his own solitude with sweet sounds: his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence and why..." LI. 39-40. Till the world is wrought...it heeded not—The poet's unbidden songs move the world to sympathy and hopes which it would not otherwise have known. "Poetry," says Shelley in his Defence of Poetry, "lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world." Poetry has the power to chasten and refine the emotions of men and to make them more sensitive to the joys and sufferings of the world.

      LI. 41-42. Like a high-born maiden...palace-tower—Next the poet compares the Skylark to a princess who is imprisoned in a lonely tower. In the Nightingale Ode, Keats refers to the nightingale's song being heard by those confined in fairy castles with windows "opening on the foam of perilous seas in faery lands forlorn". LI. 43-45. Soothing her love-laden soul...which overflows her tower—We have here the picture of a love-lorn maiden of high birth imprisoned in a tower. She sings sweet love songs to soothe her love-laden heart and her sweet music overflows her bower. The picture takes us at once to the fairy land of wonder and romance—to "faery lands forlorn" as described by Keats. L. 46. Like a glow-worm—skylark is now compared to a glow-worm. It is 'golden' in color. L. 47. In a dell of dew—in a small hollow or valley covered with dew. L. 48. Scattering unbeholden—The glow-worm hidden in a valley scatters its light without being seen. L. 49. Its aerial hue—its bright colour. The light which is shed by the glow-worm is 'aerial; i.e., soft and elusive. L. 50. among the flowers and grass....from the view—The glow-worm is hidden and screened from view by the flowers and grass among which it lies. L. 51. Like a rose embowered in its own green leaves—The skylark is now compared to the rose which sheds its fragrance abroad, though it is hidden from view. The rose is hidden in its own green leaves. L. 53. By warm winds deflowered—The warm wind scatters the petals of the rose, and spreads its fragrance everywhere. To 'deflower' is to ravish. The wind strips the rose of its fragrance. LI. 54- 55. Till the scent it gives...heavy-winged thieves—The fragrance given by the rose attracts the heavy-winged bees that come to collect the honey and are overwhelmed by the excessive sweetness of the flowers. Their senses are numbered as it were by the sweetness of the flowers. L. 56. Vernal showers—showers of spring. L. 57. On the twinkling grass—As rain falls on the grass, it sparkles. L. 58. Rain-awakened flowers—flowers which are refreshed and brightened by the spring showers.

      L. 61. Sprite or Bird—Shelley is not sure whether the skylark is a spirit or bird. "Bird thou never wert." I have never heard...rapture so divine—The poet wonders from where the skylark got its inspiration for its harmony. Certainly it was neither love nor wine that inspired the bird to pour forth wine. L. 65. That panted forth...divine—The skylark's song is more rapturous than any song which has been poured forth by a lover or one who is fond of wine. The bird's music is "a flood of rapture divine"—it is pure, clear and spontaneous. L. 66. Chorus Hymeneal—Hymen is the god of marriage. Hence the phrase means a marriage song. L. 67. triumphal chant—a song of victory sung by bards. L. 68. matched with thine—compared with the song of the skylark. LI. 68-69. would be all but an empty vaunt—Even a marriage song or a song of victory would be nothing but an empty effusion when compared with the divine rapture of the skylark's music. L. 70. A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want—All other songs lack that element of rapture and spontaneity which characterize the melody of the Skylark. There is something wanting in such songs. They can never completely satisfy or thrill us as the Skylark's song is able to do. There is something insufficient in such music, but in the music of the bird, there is the quality of spontaneous rapture which thrills and uplifts the hearer. It is pure, joyous and spontaneous. L. 7. What objects are the fountains— The poet asks: What objects are the sources of your rapturous melody? L. 72. Happy strain—happy melody. L. 75. What love of thy own kind?—Love of one's own kind has inspired some of the happiest songs in the world. The poet wonders if that love is the source of fountain of the skylark s music. What ignorance of pain?—Has unalloyed joy, a complete freedom from pain and sorrow inspired the Skylark's song? L. 76. Keen joyance—keen and unalloyed happiness. L. 77. Languor cannot be—No languor or fatigue can affect the Skylark; it is a tireless singer of joyousness. L. 78. Shadow of annoyance—The song of the bird is completely free from even the slightest tinge of sadness or irritation. L. 80. But ne'er knew love's sad satiety—The skylark knows no sorrow or frustration. Its song is full of joy. Its joy is boundless. It can never know what it is to suffer on earth. Its love knows no satiety. It is even joyous and its joy never flags or palls. On earth even love becomes after some time insipid and cloying.

      LI. 82-84. Thou of death must deem....than we mortals dream—Skylark knows more of life and death than we mortals can ever know. It has a profounder insight into these problems than men have. Therefore it is better aware of these problems than men are. Its insight is truer and deeper than that of mortals. L. 85. Or how....crystal stream?—Otherwise how could the skylark pour forth such a clear stream of music? L. 86. We look before and after—Men look forward to the future and think-of the past. Our lives are burdened with thoughts of the past and fears about the future. The poet contrasts human life with the Skylark's life. The bird lives in the present and has neither hopes nor fears. L. 87. And pine for what is not—We long for a happiness which we cannot enjoy. Both the past and future obstruct our enjoyment of the present. LI. 88-89. Our sincerest laughter...is fraught—Man never knows any moment of unalloyed joy. Even his happiest moments are clouded with some thought of pain and sorrow. L. 90. Our sweetest songs...saddest thought—Sorrow is ever present in human life, and the most beautiful songs are those inspired by some sadness. LI. 91-92. Yet if we could scorn...fear—If we are free from hate, scorn, pride and fear, as the Skylark is. LI. 93-94. If we were things born...a tear—If our lives were utterly free from sorrow. L. 95.1 know not how thy joy we ever should come near— The poet says, because our lives are full of pain and sorrow, we are able to appreciate the pure joyousness of the Skylark's music. LI. 96- 100. Better than all measures...thou scorner of the ground—Shelley's skylark's song is so pure and clear and joyous because its ecstasy is derived from a source which is deeper than mere melody or knowledge that can be got from books. L. 100. thou scorner of the ground—Shelley's skylark scorns the ground; its home seems to be the sky. It is a symbol of high, soaring aspiration. L. 103. Such harmonious madness—the skylark's music is the fullest expression of its ecstasy. It intoxicates the senses.

Previous Post Next Post

Search Your Questions