Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) Shelley was believed in a philosopher first and a poetsecond. He was one of the major English romantic poets and iscritically regarded as among the finest lyric poets in theEnglish language.Shelley became an idol of the next three or fourgenerations of poets, including important victorian andPre-Raphaelite poets such as Robert Browning, andDante Gabriel Rosetti.Shelley is perhaps best known for such classic poems asOzymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark,Music, When Soft Voices Die, The Cloud and TheMasque of Anarchy, which are among the most popularand critically acclaimed poems in the English language.
His great poetry tells stories of lifes lessonsthat you would never ever think about. He haseducated people of many ages with his greatpoetry, telling them about his life, the good, thebad, and the simple.Shelley believed , that art could change theworld by offering to the readers imaginationwhat the "real" world denies: possibilities forrethinking and hence remaking the socialhierarchy.
Form The work consists of five-line stanzas, all twenty-onefollowing the same pattern.The first four lines are in the meter of trochaic trimeter.The fifth is in iambic hexameter, also known as anAlexandrine.The rhyme scheme of each stanza is in the form ABABB.
The speaker of the poem hails the skylark as a spirit that"pours out" its feelings in wondrous singing. Its song is pure andnatural "unpremeditated" (line 5). While the bird soars higherand higher, it continues to sing. Floating toward the setting sun, itseems like the bodiless spirit of joy. Eventually, the speakercannot see the bird, for it is like trying to see a star in the light ofday. But he can still hear its "shrill delight" (line 20). At night, the skylarks song fills the air while "the moon rainsout her beams" (line 30). In the daytime, the song of the skylark is more beautiful thaneven a glorious rainbow. The speaker then makes the followingcomparisons:
1- The skylark is like a poet "hidden in the light of thought" (lines36-37), a poet whose outpourings inspire people to reflect on"hopes and fears" (line 40) that they previously ignored.2- It is like a lovesick maiden in a palace tower: Outsiders cannotsee her, but they can hear her song of love.3-It is like a glow-worm in a meadow. Grass and flowers block itsmagnificent light from reaching human eyes.4-It is like a rose enclosed within its leaves. When a windunleashes its fragrance, hovering bees become faint with the scent. The sound of the skylarks song is more beautiful than "All thatever was / Joyous, and clear, and fresh . . . " (lines 59-60), thespeaker asks it to teach the world its thoughts. Never before hashe heard "Praise of love or wine / That panted forth a flood ofrapture so divine" (lines 64-65) as does the skylark. Weddingsongs and chants of triumph are empty sounds compared to theskylarks song. What, the speaker asks, causes the bird to make sowonderful a sound.
The speaker says the skylark apparently has neverexperienced boredom or annoyance; it must have some specialknowledge of death—of what is to come—that enables it singwith such joy. Humans do not know such joy. We "pine for what is not" (line86), and in our laughter there is always some measure of pain.And what of our songs? Our sweetest ones are about sadness.But even if we renounced hatred, pride, and fear, even if wenever shed a tear, we could never be as joyful as the skylark. Itssong is better than all other sounds and is more beautiful than allthe treasures of literature.
The speaker concludes by asking the skylark to teachhim "half the gladness" (line 101) that it knows. Withsuch knowledge, the speaker could present to the world"harmonious madness" (line 103) that all would listen to.
ThemesNatural BeautyThe song of the skylark is extraordinarily beautiful because it ispure and natural, unlike the sounds created by humancontrivance and artifice. The poems speaker presents thistheme in lines 4 and 5 when he says the skylark "Pourest thyfull heart / In profuse strains of unpremeditated art."FreedomThe speaker envies the skylark for its boundless freedom toroam the skies. He says, "Thou dost float and run, / Like anunbodied joy whose race is just begun" (lines 14-15). In his ownlife, Shelley was a rebel who constantly struggled against thedictates of authority.
Inspiration The skylark is natural metaphor that represent pure poeticexpression, and the "harmonious madness" for pureinspiration.The skylark inspires Shelley to feel a frantic, rapturous joythat has no part of pain.the skylark sings free of all human error and complexity,and while listening to his song, the poet feels free of thosethings, too.
Apostrophe The speaker addresses the bird.Repetition Metaphor Paradox
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: (Lines 36-40) Like a high-born maiden In a palace tower, Soothing her love-laden Soul in secret hour With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:(Lines 41-45) Like a glow-worm golden In a dell of dew, Scattering unbeholden Its aërial hueAmong the flowers and grass which screen it from the view:(Lines 46-50) Like a rose embowerd In its own green leaves, By warm winds deflowerd, Till the scent it gives
In the first half of the poem, Shelley presents images of light and brightness to suggest the celestial quality of theskylarks song and perhaps to symbolize the radiance of his own poetry, which he hoped would gain more widespread attention. Following are examples of this imagery :
Symbolism In the poem “Ode to Skylark” Shelley symbolizes theSkylark-“blithe spirit” as if it had the power to response. Heoffers a warm welcome to the Skylark. The Skylark is unseen but still it is compared to a poetcomposing, a maiden in love, a glow-worm throwing out itsbeams of light, a rose in bloom diffusing its scent, and thesound of rain on twinkling grass. Shelley finds the Skylark asthe embodiment of all these qualities which can never befound in a single human being.
Shelley also symbolizes the human song as “an emptyvaunt” comparing it with Skylark’s joyful songs. Humansalso sing songs in praise of love or wine. They sing songs inorder to celebrate a wedding or a victory but compared withthe Skylark’s singing, all human songs would seem to bemeaningless. We feel that there is some hidden want inhuman performance. Thus Shelley makes the bird Skylarka symbol of pure, unalloyed ad unrestricted happiness. The skylark is a symbol of exultation and spiritualdesire..