'To a Skylark'

The Romantics believed that the healing power of the imagination could enable people to transcend their everyday circumstances and anxieties. This conviction features prominently in Percy Bysshe Shelley’s (1792-1822) ode ‘To a Skylark’, written in 1820. At that time he was in Italy with his wife, and experiencing difficult personal circumstances: he was saddled with pressing debts; a publisher was needed for his work, and there were concerns about his daughter’s health. Mary later recalled that they were walking on a beautiful summer evening when they heard a skylark’s rapturous ‘carolling’. Shelley asks the bird to ‘teach’ him its ‘sweet thoughts’ and ‘gladness’.

Related articles

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.

The Romantics

Article by:
Stephanie Forward
Theme:
Romanticism

Dr Stephanie Forward explains the key ideas and influences of Romanticism, and considers their place in the work of writers including Wordsworth, Blake, P B Shelley and Keats.

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