Sunday, January 06, 2008

to a sky-lark

      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.
Found this while flipping through Parnassus during the many commercial breaks in the Seahawks/Redskins game last evening. It's from Percy Byshhe Shelley's To a Sky-Lark.

I like the ideosyncrasies of this Emersonian collection of poems. It's more like a commonplace book than a traditional anthology: thematic groups of poems, and parts of poems, ballads, songs, and speeches from Shakespearean plays with no historic reference, explanation, or sourcing.

In this case Emerson just gives the one stanza. I think I can see the rationale for his decision to do this. It's a gorgeous simile beautifully expressed; its power is diluted in the poem entire, where it shows up close to the midpoint. The others are not so successful (for example the next stanza reads: "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:")

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