Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
One evening in June, 1820, while walking in a meadow near Livorno (Leghorn), Italy, Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley heard skylarks sing. The next day, reflecting upon the experience, he wrote “To a Skylark” and sent it to his London publisher to be added to a forthcoming volume featuring Prometheus Unbound: A Lyrical Drama in Four Acts (pb. 1820). A similar story is told about “Ode to a Nightingale” (1820), which John Keats wrote in May, 1819, the morning after hearing the song of a nightingale nesting in a tree outside his window. The opening stanza of William Wordsworth’s “To a Cuckoo” (1802) anticipates Shelley’s poem in language and theme.
O blithe newcomer! I have heard,I hear thee and rejoice.O cuckoo! Shall I call thee bird,Or but a wandering voice?
Wordsworth’s “The Green Linnet” (1803, 1807), a similar paean to a songbird, includes the following lines:
Hail to Thee, far above the restIn joy of voice and pinion!Thou, Linnet! In thy green array,Presiding Spirit here to-day,Dost lead the revels of the May;And...
(The entire section is 1311 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of To a Skylark Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!