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How does Shelley idealises Skylark in his poem "To Skylark"?

To a Skylark is a famous poem by P.B. Shelley. The poem expresses Shelley s longing for an ideal world of happiness. Being dissatisfied with the corrupt framework of the society, Shelley wished a new pattern of life and society. Throughout the poem he has glorified and idealised the skylark in different ways. Its idealisation and glorification gains greater strength because of the contrast between the skylark's care-free life and man's troublesome life.

The poet etherealises the skylark into a spirit - a spirit of joyous song. It is no longer a bird of flesh and blood. It is a "blithe Spirit", an unbodied joy", whose race is just begun. But in no case the poet loses sight of the real bird, its habit, its ways of flight, its nature of singing. As characteristic of the poet, Shelley has passed from particular to etherealisation.

Shelley has glorified the song of the skylark by saying that it is more melodious than any other earthly songs. The song that is sung on the marriage ceremony is undoubtedly good. The song that is sung on the victory is also excellent. But the melodious and sightless song of the skylark is more melodious and more enchanting than the song of the earth. It is better than even the song of Hymen, the god of marriage. If anybody makes an effort to compare any worldly song.with that of the skylark, he will find a hidden want in it. Actually his want is the want of peace and perfection. As human beings are not happy, their songs are smothered with sadness and anguish. On the other hand, the song of the skylark is absolutely unadulterated and perfect. So it is superior to any other songs of the painful world.

In the poem Shelley also points out that the skylark's song is very perfect, and on the other hand man's song is marked by some inherent defect. Shelley says that the joy of the skylark is pure, free and unalloyed. The song of the bird is completely free from even the slightest tinge of sadness. The skylark knows no sorrow or frustration. Its song is full of boundless joy. It has not the least touch of vexed feeling or any feeling of trouble. Its love is too pure and it knows no satiety. On the other hand, man is seized with a feeling of disgust even in the midst of singing. Man too loves his mate, but it has no uniformity of happy emotion. He soon gets tired and vexed consequent upon the prolonged enjoyment of his love.

According to the poet the skylark knows much more than human beings. It enjoys a deeper knowledge of the mystery of earth. Human beings are haunted by their thoughts of past and future and pine for what is not. The sweet songs of the human beings are those that tell of saddest thought. But the skylark is the embodiment of perennial joy and happiness. The poet says that its melody is -

Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than treasures
That in books are found.

Shelley's idealization of the skylark reaches it highest in the concluding lines of the poem, when he submits himself to the skylark and offers a humble prayer to it. In the words of the poet--

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.

Thus To a skylark shows a striking contrast between the poet's idealism and the world's realism, between the skylark's rapturous ecstasy and man's sad satiety. through this contrast, the poet has idealized the skylark with great passion.

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