Beyond all of the specifics of joy and sadness, we think there's a feeling of pure awe running through "To a Skylark." Shelley's speaker is just so alive to everything around him. He's so fascinated by feelings and images and sounds that he can barely hold it in. We mean, seriously—you might hear a bird singing and think about it for thirty seconds, but can you even imagine an explosion of amazement like we get here?
Questions About Awe and Amazement
Have you felt awe at the natural world like the speaker does in this poem?
How does amazement relate to happiness? Are they part of the same feeling? How would the speaker answer that question?
Is the speaker in this poem ever amazed and sad at the same time? If so, what lines tell you this?
Are you kind of amazed that this guy is so excited about a bird?
Chew on This
Awe? Yeah! All of the feelings in this poem, and all of its imagery, are ultimately designed to communicate a feeling of awe at the beauty of the world.
The awe that the speaker feels about the skylark's song is destroyed by his sadness, and the poem returns us to the emptiness and limitation of our lives. Bummer.