Ode to a Skylark

by Percy Bysshe Shelley


                 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 aërial 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-wingéd 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
                         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.
Percy Bysshe Shelley | Classic Poems

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