Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
        Bird thou never wert,
    That from heaven, or near it,
        Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
    Higher still and higher
        From the earth thou springest
    Like a cloud of fire;
        The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.
    In the golden lightning
        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
        Melts around thy flight;
    Like a star of heaven
        In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight,
    Keen as are the arrows
        Of that silver sphere
    Whose intense lamp narrows
        In the white dawn clear
Until we hardly see—we feel that it is there.
    All the earth and air
        With thy voice is loud,
    As, when night is bare,
        From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overflowed.
    What thou art we know not;
        What is most like thee?
    From rainbow clouds there flow not
        Drops so bright to see
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.
    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:
    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:
    Like a glow-worm golden
        In a dell of dew,
    Scattering unbeholden
        Its aerial hue
Among the flowers and grass, which screen it from the view:
    Like a rose embowered
        In its own green leaves,
    By warm winds deflowered,
        Till the scent it gives
Makes faint with too much sweet these heavy-winged thieves:
    Sound of vernal showers
        On the twinkling grass,
    Rain-awakened flowers,
        All that ever was
Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass.
    Teach us, sprite or bird,
        What sweet thoughts are thine:
    I have never heard
        Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.
    Chorus hymeneal
        Or triumphal chaunt
    Matched with thine would be all
        But an empty vaunt,
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.
    What objects are the fountains
        Of thy happy strain?
    What fields, or waves, or mountains?
        What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?
    With thy clear keen joyance
        Languor cannot be:
    Shadow of annoyance
        Never came near thee:
Thou lovest, but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.
    Waking or asleep,
        Thou of death must deem
    Things more true and deep
        Than we mortals dream,
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?
    We look before and after,
        And pine for what is not:
    Our sincerest laughter
        With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
    Yet if we could scorn
        Hate, and pride, and fear;
    If we were things born
        Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.
    Better than all measures
        Of delightful sound,
    Better than all treasures
        That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!
    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!
 

Poems by This Author

Adonais, 49-52, [Go thou to Rome] by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Go thou to Rome,--at once the Paradise
An Exhortation by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Chameleons feed on light and air:
England in 1819 by Percy Bysshe Shelley
An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king
Lines: 'When the Lamp is Shattered' by Percy Bysshe Shelley
When the lamp is shattered
Love's Philosophy by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The fountains mingle with the river
Mutability by Percy Bysshe Shelley
We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon
Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
On the Medusa of Leonardo Da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery by Percy Bysshe Shelley
It lieth, gazing on the midnight sky
Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley
I met a traveller from an antique land
Stanzas Written in Dejection, Near Naples by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The sun is warm, the sky is clear
The Call of the Open by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Which yet joined not scent to hue
The Mask of Anarchy [Excerpt] by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Stand ye calm and resolute
To Night by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Swiftly walk o'er the western wave
To the Moon [fragment] by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Art thou pale for weariness


Further Reading

Poems about Birds
Tender Buttons [Chicken]
by Gertrude Stein
Littlefoot, 19, [This is the bird hour]
by Charles Wright
Rocket Fantastic [excerpt]
by Gabrielle Calvocoressi
The Scarlet Ibis, Section VII
by Susan Hahn
A Bird came down the Walk (328)
by Emily Dickinson
A Bird in Hand
by Amber Flora Thomas
A Peacock in Spring
by Joyelle McSweeney
Albatross in Co. Antrim
by Robin Robertson
Birdcall
by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Birding at the Dairy
by Sidney Wade
Birds Again
by Jim Harrison
Birds Appearing In A Dream
by Michael Collier
Black bird, red wing
by Nickole Brown
Darwin's Finches
by Deborah Digges
Dispatches from Devereux Slough
by Mark Jarman
Dove, Interrupted
by Lucie Brock-Broido
Evening Hawk
by Robert Penn Warren
Ground Birds in Open Country
by Stanley Plumly
Gulls
by William Carlos Williams
Hardware Sparrows
by R. T. Smith
Home to Roost
by Kay Ryan
Hope is the thing with feathers (254)
by Emily Dickinson
Hummingbird
by Elaine Terranova
I am Like a Desert Owl, an Owl Among the Ruins
by Noelle Kocot
If the Owl Calls Again
by John Haines
In Flight
by Jennifer K. Sweeney
In the Memphis Airport
by Timothy Steele
Interlude
by Edith Sitwell
Last Night I Dreamed of Chickens
by Jack Prelutsky
Leda and the Swan
by W. B. Yeats
Leda, After the Swan
by Carl Phillips
Let Birds
by Linda Gregg
My Mother Would Be a Falconress
by Robert Duncan
Ode to a Nightingale
by John Keats
Paper Swallow
by Stanley Moss
Poet as Immortal Bird
by Ron Padgett
Red-Legged Kittiwake
by Emily Wilson
Revision in My Wife's Powder Room
by Lauren Berry
Small Study
by Emily Wilson
Song of the Owl
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sympathy
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy
The Eagle
by Lord Alfred Tennyson
The Heron
by Linda Hogan
The Life So Short...
by Eamon Grennan
The Nightingale
by Sir Philip Sidney
The Parakeets
by Alberto Blanco
The Raven
by Edgar Allan Poe
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Sparrow
by Gerald Stern
The Starlings
by Jesper Svenbro
The Windhover
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Yellow Bittern (An Bunnan Bui)
by Cathal Bui Mac Giolla Gunna
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
by Wallace Stevens
Three Moves
by John Logan
Tigers
by Melissa Ginsburg
To a Waterfowl
by William Cullen Bryant
White Stork
by Michael Waters
Wild Swans
by Edna St. Vincent Millay