to an Angel Spirit
In 1839, when Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley were staying in Italy, they heard the song of a skylark. It was a beautiful summer's eve when they heard it carolling while they were wandering lanes with myrtle hedges--bowers to fireflies, as it was described.
The poem's beginning is said to cast doubt as to whether it's really a bird, but the poet makes references to it as such. He says to the spirit, that it was never a bird, using the archaic word "wert" as we use were.
He heard a bird, but whatever was in Shelley's poetic fancy and thought, I've here called to mind an angelic spirit, one tasked to help us, to reach our created and everlasting goal.
Like the lark that springs up, and quoting Shelley's first lines, I spring from that.
* * * *
"Hail to thee, Blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert..."
Thou "from Heaven, or near it,"
Fly down to us on dirt...
Thou aren't of substance corporeal,
Nor singest thou not like lark, nor oriole:
But art, a spirit, an angel being
And seest as the angels seeing.
From alofty, celestial choir,
Fly down to us from higher:
Down to us, here made of dust,
Here upon the earthen crust.
Aid us on
this earthly ground,
They offended the Infinite One:
us assist, I thee implore:
Ode to a Skylark
Hail to thee, blithe
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
Higher still and higher
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest. (I like this reversal)
In the goldenlightning
Of the sunken sun,
O'er which clouds are bright'ning,
Thou dost float and run;
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.
The pale purple even
Keen as are the arrows
All the earth and air
What thou art we know not;
Drops so bright to see
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.
Copyright © 2005 - John Riedell - All