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To a Skylark

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"To a Skylark" Literary Analysis

Remarkable in many ways, a great in his own time. Percy Bysshe

Shelley was a man amongst men, a poet among poets, and an educator of life

amongst all. His great poetry tells stories of lifes lessons that you would never

ever think about. He's educated people of many ages with his great poetry,

telling them about his life, the good, the bad, and the simple. His works will be

treated as a great reference for many years as great poets emerge from our

peers. In my eyes and many more, Percy Bysshe Shelley will always be a


Born in the year of was initially a fan of Wordsworth's poetry. He believed that Wordsworth's early poetry implicitly challenged the status quo because it self-consciously set out to transform the definition of poetry. Wordsworth's early poetry distinguishes itself from

eighteenth-century verse with its focus on humble subjects and its use of

"everyday" language, even as it also employs the formal devices traditional

found in English verse, like personification, regular meter, and rhyme

schemes. Shelley read Wordsworth's poetic innovations as political statements

that implicitly called for a more egalitarian society that would reflect the

ambitions of the first French Revolutionaries, whose rallying cry was

"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." Shelley believed, in short, that art could

change the world by offering to the reader's imagination what the "real"

world denies: possibilities for rethinking and hence remaking the social

hierarchy. Later Shelley came to believe that Wordsworth never lived up to his

original promise as a poet because his later work "betrayed" the radical ideas

of his early poetry: Shelley believed that Wordsworth, because his work

tended to celebrate the enduring elements of Britain society -- like its

countryside -- had abandoned the radical cause in England. His reading of

Wordsworth's career is substantially correct: Wordsworth became

progressively more conservative over the course of his lifetime. In 1816,

Shelley published a sonnet lamenting Wordsworth's betrayal of "truth and

liberty" . Shelley's poetry shares with Wordsworth and Coleridge a powerful

interest in the human imagination. For Shelley, in the imagination lay the

only hope for a more free and egalitarian society. Exercising the imagination

could enable the reader to see new possibilities in the world around him or

her; it could also make possible empathy and sympathy for all other human

beings. Reading and writing poetry, thus, is the only means by which people

can imagine and make possible a better world. Shelley's philosophy can

loosely be summarized as "change the heart and you change the world."

Shelley believed that the engagement of the imagination made possible the

two conditions necessary for the individual to work for political change: first,

empathy for those less fortunate; and second, the capacity to imagine a world

of political equality.

The poem I chose for to analyze was "To a Skylark." I will try my

best to tell you about this poem. It was written in 1820, originally published

with "Prometheus Unbound" the same year. His wife, Mary Shelley writes " It

was on a beautiful summer evening, while wandering among the lanes whose

myrtle hedges were the bowers of the fire-flies, that we heard the carolling of

the skylark which inspired one of the most beautiful of his poems." This poem

has a rhyme scheme of: ababb. It was written in the romantic period.

It has been said to be a great work of literature. The best poetry is

what Shelley terms "unpremeditated art". This is almost in line with the Zen

philosophy of effortless achievement.This, perhaps the loveliest of Shelley's poems, is a tribute of art born of pure understanding. But there is also an acknowledgement that the emotions of humans, hate, pride, fear, sorrow, are essential ingredients of the

human experience, however flawed that might be. Quite paradoxical. It is said

that these lines:

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.

are said to be some of the greatest lines in english poetry to this very day. a

tribute to his muse,something like Kubla Khan, or Wordsworth's 'Highland

lass' ,inspiring them to heights of poetry.

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