The Internet Poetry Archive


To a Skylark

Percy Bysshe Shelly


       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 high-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 aerial 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 these 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 chaunt
       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
             Than 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 scorner 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!

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