To a Skylark

        Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
              Bird thou never wert,
        That from Heaven, or near it,
              Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

        Higher still and higher
              From the earth thou springest
        Like a cloud of fire;
              The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

        In the golden lightning
              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
              Melts around thy flight;
        Like a star of Heaven
              In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight:

        Keen as are the arrows
              Of that silver sphere,
        Whose intense lamp narrows
              In the white dawn clear
Until we hardly see--we feel that it is there.

        All the earth and air
              With thy voice is loud.
        As, when night is bare,
              From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflowed.

        What thou art we know not;
              What is most like thee?
        From rainbow clouds there flow not
              Drops so bright to see
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.

        Like a poet hidden
              In the light of thought,
        Singing hymns unbidden,
              Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not:

        Like a high-born maiden
              In a palace tower,
        Soothing her love-laden
              Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love, which overflows her bower:

        Like a glow-worm golden
              In a dell of dew,
        Scattering unbeholden
              Its aerial hue
Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view:

        Like a rose embowered
              In its own green leaves,
        By warm winds deflowered,
              Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-winged thieves.

        Sound of vernal showers
              On the twinkling grass,
        Rain-awakened flowers,
              All that ever was
Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass.

        Teach us, sprite or bird,
              What sweet thoughts are thine:
        I have never heard
              Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.

        Chorus hymeneal
              Or triumphal chaunt
        Matched with thine, would be all
              But an empty vaunt--
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.

        What objects are the fountains
              Of thy happy strain?
        What fields, or waves, or mountains?
              What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?

        With thy clear keen joyance
              Languor cannot be:
        Shadow of annoyance
              Never came near thee:
Thou lovest, but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.

        Waking or asleep,
              Thou of death must deem
        Things more true and deep
              Than we mortals dream,
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?

        We look before and after,
              And pine for what is not:
        Our sincerest laughter
              With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

        Yet if we could scorn
              Hate, and pride, and fear;
        If we were things born
              Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.

        Better than all measures
              Of delightful sound,
        Better than all treasures
              That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!

        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!