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To a Skylark

Written by: Percy Bysshe Shelley | Biography
 | Quotes (77) |
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. 5 

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. 10 

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. 15 

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¡ª 20 

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. 25 

All the earth and air 
With thy voice is loud¡ª 
As, when night is bare, 
From one lonely cloud 
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflow'd. 30 

What thou art we know not; 
What is most like thee?¡ª 
From rainbow clouds there flow not 
Drops so bright to see 
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody: 35 

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: 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: 45 

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: 50 

Like a rose embower'd 
In its own green leaves, 
By warm winds deflower'd, 
Till the scent it gives 
Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-wing¨¨d thieves. 55 

Sound of vernal showers 
On the twinkling grass, 
Rain-awaken'd flowers¡ª 
All that ever was 
Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass. 60 

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. 65 

Chorus hymeneal, 
Or triumphal chaunt, 
Match'd with thine, would be all 
But an empty vaunt¡ª 
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want. 70 

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? 75 

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. 80 

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? 85 

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. 90 

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. 95 

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! 100 

Teach me half the gladness 
That thy brain must know¡ª 
Such harmonious madness 
From my lips would flow, 
The world should listen then, as I am listening now! 105 



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