to an Angel Spirit
In 1839, when Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley were staying in Italy, they heard the song of a skylark. It was a beautiful summer's eve when they heard it carolling while they were wandering lanes with myrtle hedges--bowers to fireflies, as it was described.
The poem's beginning is said to cast doubt as to whether it's really a bird, but the poet makes references to it as such. He says to the spirit, that it was never a bird, using the archaic word "wert" as we use were.
He heard a bird, but whatever was in Shelley's poetic fancy and thought, I've called to mind from somewhere out there, a joyous and happy spirit, calling it a Blithe Angel, one tasked to help us, to reach our created and everlasting goal.
Like the lark that springs up, and quoting Shelley's first lines, I spring from that.
* * * *
"Hail to thee, Blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert..."
Thou "from Heaven, or near it,"
Fly down to us, on dirt...
Be thou, O Spirit,
an angel being
Nor singest not like lark nor oriole.
From an angel's lofty choir,
Aid us upon our earthly ground,
By the sin of Adam and Eve,
Was heaven shutter'd and grace was gone;
From Eden's Garden they had to leave
At the human race's very dawn.
They offended the Infinite One:
Now, we've falleness in nomenclature,
And must contend with a fallen nature.
O angel, help usnot fall any more,
And guide us e'er to holy grace!
Keep us from the infernal door,
And guide us to our created place.
O carry us on thy plumed wing,
Thy graceful pinions to rise up higher,
To where thy kind, doth joyously sing...
Beyond the moon and stars of fire.
--John Riedell, with thanks to Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Quoted here is a portion of Shelley's poetic work. I've set in blue, words and lines I like:
Ode to a Skylark
Hail to thee, blithe
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
Higher still and higher
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest. (I like this reversal)
In the goldenlightning
Of the sunken sun,
O'er which clouds are bright'ning,
Thou dost float and run;
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.
The pale purple even
Keen as are the arrows
All the earth and air
What thou art we know not;
Drops so bright to see
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.
Copyright © 2005 - John Riedell - All