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Compare and contrast Shelley and Wordsworth with reference to the poems "To a Skylark"...

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samsir | College Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 6, 2010 at 12:50 AM via web

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Compare and contrast Shelley and Wordsworth with reference to the poems "To a Skylark" and "To the Skylark".

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 8, 2010 at 5:53 AM (Answer #1)

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In the poems "To a Skylark" and "To the Skylark" by Wordsworth and Shelley, both poets see the skylark as something spiritual or celestial. Wordsworth begins calls the skylark an "ethereal minstrel" while Shelley calls it a "blithe Spirit."

It is also evident that both poets see the skylark as something that does not know and experience trouble, pain, and sorrow as humans do. Wordsworth asks the skylark if it hates the earth which is abundant with trouble and sorrows ("Dost thou despise the earth where cares abound?") and then describes it as being able to drop into its nest being quiet, peaceful, and composed ("Thy nest which thou canst drop into at will, Those quivering wings composed, that music still!) Similarly, Shelley hears the crystal clear notes the skylark sings and reasons that such clear notes can only come from a wise and glad heart ("Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?") In the final stanza Shelley begs the skylark to teach the gladness that it knows.

One significant difference between the two poems is that Wordsworth sees the skylark as something that is glorified by the sun and always in view. He contrasts the skylark with the nightingale who is always hiding the dark woods and says of the skylark that it is always in view with the sun acting as its spotlight ("A privacy of glorious light is thine). Shelly, on the other hand, describes the skylark as something beautiful, but hidden, like a "maiden in a palace tower" or a glow-worm casting a beautiful light that others can't actually see because it's hidden in the grass. The difference is that Shelley hears the beautiful melodies of the skylark, but does not see it soaring high up in the sky, the way Wordsworth sees it.

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