'Shelley's Skylark', a poem by Thomas Hardy

Description

This is the manuscript of Thomas Hardy’s poem ‘Shelley’s Skylark’. Its title refers to the poem 'To a Skylark' by Percy Bysshe Shelley, written and published in 1820. It includes the text ‘In the neighbourhood of Leghorn March’, implying it was written in March near Leghorn, the name used at that time by English speakers for the Italian town of Livorno. The year was 1913.

Are Hardy’s feelings about the skylark the same as Shelley’s?

Hardy disagrees with Shelley’s words ‘Bird thou never wert’, insisting that the skylark was an actual individual bird that Shelley heard. This follows Mary Shelley's account of the poem's composition, who wrote: 

In the Spring we spent a week or two near Leghorn […] it was on a beautiful summer evening while wandering along the lanes whose myrtle-hedges were the bower of the fireflies, that we heard the carolling of the skylark.

Full title:
'Shelley's Skylark'
Created:
1887, Livorno [Leghorn], Tuscany, Italy
Format:
Manuscript / Fair copy
Creator:
Thomas Hardy
Usage terms:
Public Domain
Held by:
British Library
Shelfmark:
Ashley MS 4164

Full catalogue details

Related articles

The Romantics and Classical Greece

Article by:
Stephen Hebron
Theme:
Romanticism

The Romantic period was one of growing interest in ancient Greece. Stephen Hebron explores how this shaped the subject matter and forms of the era’s poets.

An introduction to ‘To a Skylark’

Article by:
Stephen Hebron
Theme:
Romanticism

P B Shelley's 'To a Skylark' was inspired by the song of a real skylark, heard in Italy in 1820. Stephen Hebron considers how Shelley transforms ordinary experience into a plea to move beyond that experience to a deeper poetic understanding.

Related collection items

Related people

Related works

'To a Skylark'

Created by: Percy Bysshe Shelley

The Romantics believed that the healing power of the imagination could enable people to transcend their everyday ...