In the sonnet, The Caged Skylark, Hopkins makes an elaborate comparison between the human spirit and a skylark. There are two stages of this comparison: in the octave, the human spirit of a living human being is compared to a caged skylark; in the sestet, the human spirit of the same human being, when resurrected after death, is compared to a free skylark.
Man has a spirit that aspires upwards, which rises to soar to heaven but is kept back by the prison of the body, just as a skylark, imprisoned in a cage, finds it impossible to fly upwards to the sky. The skylark, who is free, sings gaily and, when tired, drops to rest in his own nest (not in any cage). The human spirit, too, will be glorified and attain immortality after the death and resurrection of the individual. Thus, the theme of the poem is Resurrection. Similar to the caged skylark, the human individual reacts against his confines, aspires above them, and is frustrated by them. But after Resurrection, the individual will no longer feel encumbered by the flesh or the body.
In the poem, The Caged Skylark, the poet compares the spirit of man to a caged skylark, which though possessing the courage to face a storm, may be confined within the bars of a dull cage, so the spirit of man, which has the courage to soar to heaven, is confined within the dwelling of the body which is a mean house of bones. Further, just as the skylark can no longer remember the time of his freedom to fly over the wild mountain scenery, so the spirit of man endures the drudgery of a slave, spending his long life on earth toiling and sweating.
"The subject matter of the poem "The Caged Skylark" by Gerard Manly Hopkins is basically freedom. My question is, how can I link this subject matter to his character? Why does he see himself as trapped? Why does he liken himself to a bird and uses a bird as a metaphor?" eNotes Editorial, 18 Sep. 2019, -help/the-subject-matter-of-the-poem-the-caged-skylark-425766.Accessed 8 Feb. 2023. 2b1af7f3a8