Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  From “Mano: a Poetical History.” I. The Skylark

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Richard Watson Dixon b. 1833

From “Mano: a Poetical History.” I. The Skylark

THOU only bird that singest as thou flyest,

Heaven-mounting lark, that measurest with thy wing

The airy zones, till thou art lost in highest!

Upon the branch the laughing thrushes cling,

About her home the humble linnet wheels,

Around the tower the gather’d starlings swing;

These mix their songs and weave their figur’d reels:

Thou risest in thy lonely joy away,

From the first rapturous note that from thee steals,

Quick, quick, and quicker, till the exalted lay

Is steadied in the golden breadths of light,

’Mid mildest clouds that bid thy pinions stay.

The heavens that give would yet sustain thy flight,

And o’er the earth for ever east thy voice,

If but to gain were still to keep the height.

But soon thou sinkest on the fluttering poise

Of the same wings that soard’d: soon ceasest thou

The song that grew invisible with joys.

Love bids thy fall begin; and thou art now

Dropp’d back to earth, and of the earth again,

Because that love hath made thy heart to bow.

Thou hast thy mate, thy nest on lowly plain,

Thy timid heart by law ineffable

Is drawn from the high heavens where thou shouldst reign;

Earth summons thee by her most tender spell;

For thee there is a silence and a song:

Thy silence in the shadowy earth must dwell,

Thy song in the bright heavens cannot be long.

—And best to thee those fates may I compare

Where weakness strives to answer bidding strong.