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


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'
1887, Livorno [Leghorn], Tuscany, Italy
Manuscript / Fair copy
Thomas Hardy
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Ashley MS 4164

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