A Critical Analysis of To the Skylark by William Wordsworth

The poem exemplifies the distinctive genius and temperament of Wordsworth, setting him apart from Shelley. Unlike Shelley’s portrayal, Wordsworth’s depiction of the skylark remains grounded in the tangible world. To Wordsworth, the skylark is not an abstract concept, but a living creature of flesh and blood. He captures the bird’s manners and habits with impeccable accuracy, offering a true-to-life portrayal. Unlike Shelley’s skylark, which disdains the earth, Wordsworth’s rendition acknowledges the significance of the earthly realm. He firmly asserts that it is the proximity to the earth, rather than distance from it, that ignites the celestial joy within the ethereal minstrel.

Beneath the poem’s artistic brilliance lies a profound moral message. Its grand lesson revolves around the importance of maintaining a connection between heaven and home, as it amplifies the joy of both earthly existence and the sublime heavens. The skylark’s daily routine serves as a parable for living the right way.

In terms of artistic qualities, the poem attains a level of excellence. While the initial invocation adheres to the conventions of 18th-century odes, Wordsworth swiftly unveils his originality. The language assumes a dignified and lofty tone, transcending the bald and colloquial style of his earlier works. The solemn and stately cadence of the lines harmonizes perfectly with the meditative nature of the poem, while the closing couplet has become a timeless gem, revered for its beautiful thoughts and concise expression.

The essence of the poem finds culmination in the concluding couplet, where the poet extracts a profound moral lesson from the skylark’s behavior, applicable to human conduct. Just as the skylark soars high in the sky but remains focused on its nest, a truly wise person navigates the realm of elevated thoughts without losing sight of their ordinary duties in daily life. Wordsworth champions the ideals of simplicity in living and profound thinking as the defining traits of greatness on Earth. In his vision, heaven and home are intertwined, merging steadfastness and sublimity, with the home serving as a foundation for loftier perspectives.

The poet addresses the skylark as the “ethereal minstrel” due to its constant soaring in the sky, accompanied by the music created by the movement of its wings. It is also referred to as the “pilgrim of the sky” as it embarks on a journey to the upper realms. While the skylark harbors a dislike for earthly cares, its heart and gaze remain fixed on the ground where its young ones rest in the nest. As the skylark descends, it folds its wings, resulting in a temporary cessation of its melodic strains. The skylark’s music stems from its deep affection for its offspring, bringing delight to the people on Earth. Its melody surpasses that of the nightingale and cuckoo, resonating throughout the year, unlike their seasonal songs. While the nightingale and cuckoo inhabit the dark depths of the forest, the skylark dwells in the resplendent light of the sky, showering the Earth with a flood of harmonious melodies. The skylark embodies the wisdom of a bird that simultaneously ascends to heaven and remains rooted in its home. The poet eloquently describes this:

“Type of the wise who soar, but never roam,

True to the kindred points of heaven and home.”

Also Read : 


The skylark, in Wordsworth’s portrayal, stands as a testament to his deep understanding of nature and his ability to capture its essence. Unlike Shelley, who abstracts the skylark into a symbol of pure transcendence, Wordsworth grounds the bird in reality, portraying its earthly existence with fidelity. The skylark becomes a tangible embodiment of the harmonious relationship between heaven and home.

The moral significance of the skylark’s daily routine resonates strongly throughout the poem. It serves as a metaphor for leading a balanced and meaningful life. Just as the skylark soars high in the sky, it remains rooted in its nest, exemplifying the importance of maintaining a connection to both the spiritual realm and earthly responsibilities. Wordsworth emphasizes that true wisdom lies in harmonizing lofty thoughts with practical actions, finding the sublime within the ordinary.

From an artistic standpoint, the poem exhibits exceptional qualities. While the opening invocation adheres to conventional styles prevalent in 18th-century odes, Wordsworth quickly veers into his own creative realm. The language takes on a dignified tone, elevating the thoughts expressed. The lines possess a solemn and majestic cadence that befits the contemplative mood of the piece. The closing couplet, renowned for its profound beauty and concise expression, has become a timeless classic.

In the poem’s essence, Wordsworth draws inspiration from the skylark’s behavior, extracting a profound moral lesson applicable to human conduct. Just as the skylark finds joy by embracing both heaven and home, individuals should strive to unite their spiritual aspirations with their earthly obligations. This fusion of aspirations leads to a rich and meaningful existence. Wordsworth’s vision celebrates the interconnectedness of the celestial and terrestrial realms, uniting stability and grandeur and offering a fresh perspective on wisdom and enlightenment.

Addressing the skylark as the “ethereal minstrel” pays homage to its continuous flight through the heavens, accompanied by the melodious flutter of its wings. The term “pilgrim of the sky” captures the skylark’s journey to the uppermost reaches of the celestial realm. While the skylark holds disdain for earthly worries, its heart and gaze remain fixed on the ground, where its offspring find solace in the nest. As the skylark descends, folding its wings, its music temporarily ceases. The skylark’s melody arises from its deep love for its young ones, bringing joy to the inhabitants of the Earth. Its enchanting song surpasses that of the nightingale and cuckoo, resonating throughout the year rather than being limited to a particular season. While the nightingale and cuckoo dwell in the obscurity of the forest, the skylark thrives under the radiant light of the daytime sky, bestowing a cascade of harmonious beauty upon the Earth. The skylark emerges as a symbol of wisdom, gracefully navigating between heaven and home, embodying the poet’s profound words:

“Representing the wise, who ascend without roaming,

True to the connection of heaven and home.”



Leave a Comment