To a Skylark
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
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.
‘To a Skylark’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley is an ode. It celebrates the beauty of nature and the bliss of a skylark’s song. Percy Bysshe Shelley is one of the most important English poets. He was born in Broadbridge Heath, England in 1792 and died in 1822 at twenty-nine. He was raised in the countryside and was educated at University College Oxford. While in school, Shelley was well known for his liberal views and was once chastised for writing a pamphlet titled, ‘The Necessity of Atheism’. His parents were severely disappointed in him and demanded that he forsake all of his beliefs. Soon after this, he eloped with a 16-year-old woman, Harriet Westbrook. It was at this time that Shelley began writing his long-form poetry, for which he is best known.
Shelley had two children with Harriet, but before their second was born, he left her for the future author of ‘Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus’, Mary Godwin.
Driving through town today I glimpsed a profusion of colourful tulips on Bridge Street. It was too magnificent to ignore. At the time I was with my long-standing friend, Jill Halliday, who, in addition to being a sentimentalist, is an artist. We were both instantly captured by the sight and briefly engaged in a collaborative discussion of which colour we preferred though not without readily agreeing each of them was perfection.
Springtime is but one of four reasons often asserted by others to return to the northern temperate zone. The seasons fire the imagination with undeniable differences both naturally and metaphorically. Until I saw those tulips today I hadn’t fully anticipated the awakening that is springtime. The trees along the river are as yet only budding and the fields are predominantly tawny. Seeing the overnight abundance of the red, white and yellow flowers as speedily reminded me of life’s unforeseen but transitional glory.
In our subsequent passage into the Glebe and along Dow’s Lake we unwittingly joined the throngs of visitors overseeing the initial splendour of the annual tulip festival.
The Canadian Tulip Legacy is a nationally registered charity that commemorates the sacrifice of over 7500 Canadian soldiers in the liberation of the Netherlands while celebrating the only royal personage ever born on Canadian soil, Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet, and the resulting gift of tulips from the grateful Dutch to all Canadians.
Over one million tulips in Canada’s national capital region are planted and cared for by the National Capital Commission, Canada’s official gardener. This tulip tradition has lasted since the end of the Second World War and has grown into the largest public tulip display on the planet. The Canadian Tulip Festival presents this stunning floral showcase to the world, inviting guests from across the globe to experience Canada’s Capital every spring.
Appropriately enough our ambling confab today in the car while motoring in and out of the city on a mission to collect Jill’s Apple computer from Alex, her computer guru, included a succinct but pithy allusion to the inexpressible beauty and poetic allure of youth, characterized as it is by its own colour, form and aesthetics. This expression of immediacy and superficial enchantment provoked a philosophic discussion of how to live one’s life, whether to submit to form and custom or instead to go one’s own way, heeding what personal strengths percolate and flourish from within.