Critical appreciation of the poem "Ode to a Skylark" by P.B Shelley.

indraraj | Student
I am so happy to submit my first answer and that too on one of the brilliant poems of Shelley (and we know he is the darling of lovers of literature for centuries). To Shelley, Skylark has come to symbolize the spirit of poetry and music too, which is in accordance with the romantic tradition. Although the skylark is idealized, it is clearly purposive and practical in its final intent. Shelley is thrilled to ecstasy on seeing the skylark and at once bursts into song in praise of the bird which to him is the noble spirit in flesh and blood. It is owing to his intense poetic capacity that he imagines most unearthly things to its very existence and action. Shelley is rapt with joy in addressing the skylark as : "Hail to thee; blithe spirit ! Bird thou never wert." No other words can replace this intimate address so passionately and appropriately. It is no bird at all, but a supernatural spirit with supernatural life and power. That is why its song is heavenly, free, spontaneous, fluent an rich. In our college, while lecturing on Shelley, my professor always gave stress on Shelley's expression on romantic faith. According to him, the Poet holds that the bird sings not near the earth but near the heaven or near it. The poem reveals Shelley's worship of the spirit of wonder and delight. There is no need to reproduce the lines of the poem, because I am you have the same in your heart. So let me say here that the bird is figuratively presented as a ball of fire hurled against the blue sky. Perhaps the contrast of colours charms our imagination. Especially the line "And singing still dost soar and soaring ever singest" shows not only its action of flying but also of singing. The bird is highly musical and gracious in its movement. Even nature also assumes a glorious appearance to heighten the beauty of the bird. The Sun while sinking has sent out golden beams in all directions and has lent brilliant golden colour to the floating clouds. The bird is graciously floating against this shining surface and this motion is supremely imagined as "Like an unbodied joy whose race is just began". By the fine use of simile the poet has compared the bird's flight to a brilliant mass of joy gliding at a fantastic speed. The red evening gradually melts into a black sheet spreading over the whole nature. The bird is not seen now as the evening grows darker but its delightful note is clearly audible. The shrill note of the skylark is aptly compared to the darting sharp arrow of Venus. Further the skylark's situation and gradual disappearance are realistically conceived and portrayed by the simile of the bright star Venus gradually vanishing out o sight in the presence of growing sunshine. Shelley describes the radiating delightful voice of the skylark. He says that all the earth and air are filled with its haunting melody and are resounding. This is compared with the clear sky radiant with moonlight spread all over the still overflowing : "As when right is bare, From one lonely cloud, The moon rains out her beams and Heaven is overflowed." Thus, wit the bird the poet soars as he sings and sings as he soars. I do wish to continue with this lovely Ode by that immortal poet; but it seems I have to control the emotions because of the certain limit of the characters we can have freedom with.
lit24 | Student

Shelley's ode "To a Skylark" was witten in 1820 when he was in Leghorn in Italy. Shelley compares the skylark to various objects in order to make  the readers understand as much as is possible the mysterious and beautiful bird, and its divine  music.

Some of the dazzlingly and exquistely beautiful objects to which it and its melodious voice are compared are:"blithe spirit," "a cloud of fire," "an unbodied joy," "a star of heaven," "moon beam," the bright colours of the rainbow, an 'unseen' poet, "a high-born maiden," "a glow-worm," "a rose," "sound of vernal showers," "crystal stream." It would be impossible to analyse all these images because of the restrictions on the word limit. However an analysis of one should serve the purpose.

The following lines capture the essence of the bird and reveal the central message of the poem: "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."

Shelley in his essay "Defense of Poetry" (written 1821 published 1840) remarks that poets are "the unacknowledged legislators of the world." That is, although the poets are never in the limelight they guide the destinies of a nation by voluntarily pronouncing profound truths which serve as moral guideposts to the common people. Similarly, the skylark also is rarely seen but its soulful melodious music serves to remind the people of the mysitcal beauties of Nature.

surajverma8 | Student

" ode to a skylark" is a lyrical poem by P.B. Shelley, a great romantic poet.This poem is a manifesto of Shelley's spirit of balance, order and collaboration.This poem is full of pragmatic wisodm which reflects the metaphoric treatment of Shelley.

He portrayes the philosophy of life and enthralls us to pay our attention towards the harsh realities of life.H e says that:

"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 our saddest thought."

This is the reality of our life that we ran after those things which are beyond of our capacity instead of those things which can we get easily.

To conclude, Ode to a skylark is a nice blend of romanticism and humanitarian approach.

As for as the outstanding attribute of this luric is concerned,

dear chanrika,"our sweetest songs are those that tell of our saddest thought" is the conclusion of the whole lyric.

suraj verma(research scholar, deptt. of English,Allahabad University, India)


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To a Skylark

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