Percy Bysshe Shelley




To a Sky-Lark 

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 brightning, 
      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 day-light 
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 overflow'd. 

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 aerial 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 those heavy-winged 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 chaunt, 
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.