To a skylark

          Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
     Bird thou never wert,
          That from heaven, or near it
     Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strain 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 brightning,
    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 overflow'd.

          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 embower'd
     In its own green leaves,
          By warm winds deflower'd,
     Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-winged thieves:

          Sound of vernal showers

     On the twinkling grass,
          Rain-awaken'd 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,
          Match'd 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!