Online Poetry Anthology

“The Skylark” by John Clare

The Rural Muse, Poems (1835) | John Clare (1793–1864)

"The Skylark" by John Clare

Above the russet clods, the corn is seen
Sprouting its spiry points of tender green,
Where squats the hare, to terrors wide awake,
Like some brown clod the harrows failed to break.
Opening their golden caskets to the sun,
The buttercups make schoolboys eager run,
To see who shall be first to pluck the prize—
Up from their hurry see the Skylark flies,
And o’er her half-formed nest, with happy wings
Winnows the air, till in the cloud she sings,
Then hangs a dust spot in the sunny skies,
And drops, and drops, till in her nest she lies,
Which they unheeded passed—not dreaming then
That birds, which flew so high, would drop again
To nests upon the ground, which any thing
May come at to destroy. Had they the wing
Like such a bird, themselves would be too proud,
And build on nothing but a passing cloud!
As free from danger, as the heavens are free
From pain and toil, there would they build, and be,
And sail about the world to scenes unheard
Of and unseen,—O were they but a bird!
So think they, while they listen to its song,
And smile, and fancy, and so pass along;
While its low nest, moist with the dews of morn,
Lies safely, with the leveret, in the corn.

The Rural Muse, Poems (1835) | John Clare (1793–1864)


Online Poetry Anthology

 

Suggestions
  • Read the poem aloud, stopping not at the end of a line but as the punctuation guides you.
  • The poem is written in couplets, two lines of poetry one after another that rhyme. Mark each pair of couplets.
  • The author paints a picture with his words. Choose one of the scenes he describes to illustrate. Add the appropriate couplet below.
  • Write at least one pair of couplets in the style of Clare to describe a different scene of your own choosing.
  • Learn more about the skylark.
  • Compare and contrast Clare’s poem to that of Shelley.

 

Additional Resources

Skylark
Information at eBird.

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