TO A SKYLARK

“To a Skylark” by Percy Bysshe Shelley is an ode to the “blithe” nature of a singing skylark and how human beings are unable to ever attain that same bliss. In the poem, Shelley addresses a skylark that flies up at a magnificent height and sings so melodiously that the world is entranced and charmed by its sweetness .The skylark is Shelley’s most exceptional natural metaphor for true poetic emotion, the “harmonious madness” of classic influence. It signifies high poetic imagination, virtue, and messenger of peace and progress. The skylark’s song concerns a position of purified existence; its song is driven by the pleasure of that uncomplicated simplicity of life, and is unmixed with any sign of despair or of the bittersweet, as human happiness very usually is.

The skylark’s unrestrained melody pours down upon the world, transcending every other grace making the speaker assume that the bird is not mortal at all, but a “Spirit.” It stands for idealism free from crime, exploitation, and slavery. In the poem, it’s rarely noticed but its deep mellow song helps to evoke the people of the mystical visions of Nature. The bird signifies the sheer, unrestrained happiness that Shelley is frantically seeking. This desperation comes through in the next stanzas. He sees the bird as a “high-born maiden” that serenades her lover below her and spring, or “vernal showers” that rain on the flowers below. The skylark is like “rainbow clouds” and the type of all “Joyous” things. 

Structurally and linguistically, this poem is almost unique among Shelley’s works; its strange form of a stanza, with four compact lines and one very long line, and its lilting, songlike diction (“profuse strains of unpremeditated art”) work to create the effect of spontaneous poetic expression flowing musically and naturally from the poet’s mind. The skylark is happy because it apprehends what makes it happy. It has a chosen advantage over human beings, who know
both what gives them happiness and what causes them unhappiness. They worry about the end because they are unaware of things that lie beyond mortality, among other reasons. The skylark knows what lies beyond death, and feels no concern about it. It is no so shocking that it is exceptionally happy the line “We” pine for things that we do not have, and even our “sweetest songs” are full of the “saddest thought[s].” clearly states it.

The poem ends with the writer soliciting with the bird to “Teach [him] half the gladness / That thy brain must know.” Even that little amount of happiness would give Shelley the capability to produce “harmonious madness” that would force the world to listen to him must as raptly as he is listening to the skylark now. Some critics say that P.B Shelley was not a practical man. He was far away from realism. So his Skylark continuously soared higher and did not come to the earth, like the Skylark of Wordsworth. On the whole, this poem is Shelley’s one of the most excellent works.