To a Skylark
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
To a Skylark Theme of Man and the Natural World
In "To a Skylark," our speaker wants to know and say everything about this theme. He wants to know the secrets of nature, to know what birds feel when they sing. He's fascinated by the way that nature creates feelings in him, and by all the ways in which human beings interact with the natural world. This isn't just simple, cheery "look at the pretty birds" nature poetry. It's powerful, emotional, raw, and deep—a killer mix of human feeling and natural forces.
Questions About Man and the Natural World
- Can you actually imagine the landscape where this poem is taking place, or does this just seem like a haze of feelings?
- Is it possible to see what's really out there in the world, or is it always filtered through our thoughts and feelings? How do you think the speaker would answer this question?
- Does what the speaker is describing seem "real"? Could you really hear a song as beautiful as the one he tells us about, or is this all just his fantasy?
- Why is there so much natural imagery in this poem? How would it be different without it?
Chew on This
The poem's speaker works constantly to break down the barriers between humans and nature, to convince us that we are no different from the trees and flowers and skylarks all around us. Far out.
Finally, "To a Skylark" reveals the distance between mankind and the world. No matter how hard we try, we can never really understand the world around us. Not even with a GPS.