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The Skylark: A Symbol of Poetic Inspiration for Generations with Special Reference to Shelley and Hughes

Kappalumakkel Thomas Baby

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 30, Issue 2, June 2022


Keywords: Cosmic energy, pure joy, semiotics, Shelley, Skylark, symbol, transcendence, Ted Hughes

Published on: 9 June 2022

The skylark is a tiny brown bird with a small crest on its head. It is slightly larger than a sparrow and is popularly known for its uninterrupted song during its upward flight. The bird is found in most parts of England and many European countries. A closer examination of English poetic tradition reveals that several English poets have anthologised this tiny bird, including famous poets such as Wordsworth, Shelley, Hopkins, Meredith, Rossetti, Rosenberg, and C Day-Lewis. The late poet laureate Ted Hughes also wrote about the skylark in our times. Even Shakespeare and Goethe have eulogised the skylark in their plays. Since Thomas Hardy has written a poem about ‘Shelley’s skylark,’ it is evident that traditionally ‘To a Skylark’ by Shelley is the most popular of all ‘Skylark’ poems. However, Hughes’s poem on skylark merits our attention because it is entirely different from the general trend of all other skylark poems written until his time. Therefore, this study explores how the skylark became a symbol of poetic inspiration for different generations of poets by analysing the two famous poems on skylark written by Shelley (1792–1822) and Hughes (1930–1998). While Shelley depicts the skylark as a pure spirit of joy, Hughes considers it an embodiment of cosmic energy resulting from the bird’s struggle for flight against the earth’s gravitational pull. Therefore, the different perceptions of Shelley and Hughes about the skylark constitute the essence of this discourse.

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ISSN 1511-3701

e-ISSN 2231-8542

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