To a Skylark (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

To a Skylark:


To a Skylark was written in the spring of 1880. This poem is undoubtedly one of the best of Shelley’s creations because in it music and thought have been perfectly blended, the outward rhythm of the verse combining with an inner rhythm of thought and imagery. He compares material things with unearthly and ethereal creatures. It is also symbolic. The Skylark symbolizes the soul of the ideal poet and the soaring spirit of poetry.

In this poem, Shelly addresses the skylark as a spirit of the air. He wants to know the source of its joy that makes it sing so sweetly and spontaneously. The poet feels that the bird has a deep knowledge of the universe and blissful ignorance of pain. He is also saddened by his own inability to attain the happy state of the bird. The poem is a succession of multiple images that compare the bird to diverse objects. The many similies are characteristic of Shelley’s method of comparing familiar with unfamiliar objects.

Comprehensive Summary:

“To a Skylark” is one of the best poems from the pen of Shelley. The poet hails the skylark which is more a spirit than a bird that sings in the sky. It soars higher and higher in the sky and sings as it soars. It begins its flight at sunrise just as a spirit is released from the body. It flies so high in the sky that in the dim light of the evening it becomes invisible. However, its sweet song can still be heard.

The notes of the bird’s songs are as clear as the beams of the moon, the light of which fades as the morning approaches. The music of the Skylark fills the earth and the sky like the moonlight that floods a cloudless sky.

The shining raindrops falling from the clouds are not as beautiful and charming as the sweet song of the skylark. In fact it is like an inspired poet who sings sweet songs most naturally. The skylark is like a high-born maiden who sits in her lonely chamber and sings to console her love-stick heart. In the same way, the bird is invisible, but it gives sweet songs to the world. In this sense, it is like a glow-worm who, though hidden behind the grass and flowers, continue to emit its light. Similarly, it is like a rose, covered with green leaves but giving out its sweet smell. The music of the skylark is fresher, more charming, and more beautiful than anything else in the world.

The poet is desirous of learning the secret of the sweetness of the skylark’s songs. Its songs are more joyous than the songs sung in praise of love or wine. Compared with the song of the skylark all marriage and victory songs become dull and uninteresting. It is hard to know the source of its inspiration.

The joy of the skylark is full to the brim. It never declines. Its joy is pure and unmixed. The secret of its sweet and joyful music lies in the fact that it knows the truth about death and the world beyond. On the other hand, human joy is incomplete and mixed with pain. The poet is not sure if a man can ever enjoy this happiness even though he gives up hatred, fear, and pride. However, the poet expresses the wish that he could sing half so sweetly as the skylark does. In that case, he would be able to charm the whole world with his music.

Write a brief summary of the poem “To a Skylark”.

“To a Skylark” is a very famous poem written by P. B. Shelley. The poet welcomes the Skylark as a happy spirit, expressing its natural happiness through its songs.

The bird flies higher and higher from the earth. Its song is full of joy. The earth as well as its surrounding is filled with its sweet music. Though the bird is invisible, its song surpasses everything that is joyous and fresh in the world. The Skylark appears to be ignorant of pain. That is the reason why its song is so charming. The bird is happy at heart. Human beings can never enjoy such happiness as they are always lost in memories of the past or hopes of the future.

The poet requests the bird to teach him half its gladness so that he may also give sweetness to his poetry.

Bring out the theme or the central idea of the poem “To a Skylark”.

The idea behind P. B. Shelley’s poem “To a Skylark” is that a bird is full of joy in contrast to human beings who are full of sorrow. The Skylark is completely free from sorrows. It experiences the joy and not the bitterness of love. It is untroubled by the fear of death. On the contrary, sadness underlies all the joys of human beings.

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