The Sleep Of Spring

O for that sweet, untroubled rest
That poets oft have sung!--
The babe upon its mother's breast,
The bird upon its young,
The heart asleep without a pain--
When shall I know that sleep again?

When shall I be as I have been
Upon my mother's breast
Sweet Nature's garb of verdant green
To woo to perfect rest--
Love in the meadow, field, and glen,
And in my native wilds again?

The sheep within the fallow field,
The herd upon the green,
The larks that in the thistle shield,
And pipe from morn to e'en--
O for the pasture, fields, and fen!
When shall I see such rest again?

I love the weeds along the fen,
More sweet than garden flowers,
For freedom haunts the humble glen
That blest my happiest hours.
Here prison injures health and me:
I love sweet freedom and the free.

The crows upon the swelling hills,
The cows upon the lea,
Sheep feeding by the pasture rills,
Are ever dear to me,
Because sweet freedom is their mate,
While I am lone and desolate.

I loved the winds when I was young,
When life was dear to me;
I loved the song which Nature sung,
Endearing liberty;
I loved the wood, the vale, the stream,
For there my boyhood used to dream.

There even toil itself was play;
Twas pleasure een to weep;
Twas joy to think of dreams by day,
The beautiful of sleep.
When shall I see the wood and plain,
And dream those happy dreams again?

by John Clare

Comments (5)

The Japanese writer Natsume Sōseki quotes Shelley's Skylark in the first few pages of my favourite book, 'Kusamakura'. You could say Sōseki has made Shelley's poem an 'uta makura' (poetic pillow) .
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! Shelley's fervent, earnest prayer in the finishing lines was indeed answered by the Universal Soul. The world, like me, is listening enraptured to the harmonious madness in Shelley's lyrics, listening continuously. PBS LIVES!
Wonderful ride, to compare divinity, to a mere fowl, of song and beauty. Shelly displays high imagine skills in this work.
Shelley compares the skylark to various objects in order to make the readers understand as much as is possible the mysterious and beautiful bird, and its divine music. Some of the dazzlingly and exquistely beautiful objects to which it and its melodious voice are compared are: blithe spirit, a cloud of fire, an unbodied joy, a star of heaven, moon beam, the bright colours of the rainbow, an 'unseen' poet, a high-born maiden, a glow-worm, a rose, sound of vernal showers, crystal stream. It would be impossible to analyse all these images because of the restrictions on the word limit. However an analysis of one should serve the purpose. The following lines capture the essence of the bird and reveal the central message of the poem: 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. Shelley in his essay Defense of Poetry (written 1821 published 1840) remarks that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. That is, although the poets are never in the limelight they guide the destinies of a nation by voluntarily pronouncing profound truths which serve as moral guideposts to the common people. Similarly, the skylark also is rarely seen but its soulful melodious music serves to remind the people of the mysitcal beauties of Nature.
Hail to thee! I love this soaring unbodied joy!