Sunday, April 28, 2013

Who is Lark: Abroad?

I've had several recent inquiries about the story behind my name.  True to my name, I am merry and ready for adventure!  Hence my tendency to lark abroad.  

Lark is an international name:
German- Lerche (ch sounds like k and e sounds like eh)
Old High German- Lerihha
French- Alouette
Spanish- Alondra
Italian- Ladola
Latin- Alauda

The Old English origin of this word predates the year 900, in the form: lwerce.


a merry, carefree adventure; frolic; escapade.
innocent or good-natured mischief; a prank.
something extremely easy to accomplish, succeed in, or to obtain: That exam was a lark.
verb (used without object)
to have fun; frolic; romp.
to behave mischievously; play pranks.

Having a uncommon English name is a blessing and a curse.  It is a curse because many people think I am misspelling or miss pronouncing my own name which they believe to be "Mark".  It also lends itself to many annoying nicknames and play on words, such as "Lark, the herald angels sing".  It is a blessing because uncommon names force you to develop a strength of character in elementary school.  My name comes from that of a meadow bird with a sweet song, but more directly was inspired by the 1948 film  Enchantment, a WWII love story about an orphan girl named Lark.  Even ore specifically,  Lark was played by the French child actress, Gigi Perreau.  My mother anticipated that I'd have a similar appearance when born.

Gigi as Lark.  Not the best picture, but not many images of her in this role are available.  
Some quotes from the film:
"I remember Miss Lark well. One doesn't forget Miss Lark." ~ Proutie

"There's no such thing as an empty room." ~ Rollo

"Don't cheat yourself of love the way I did. Listen to me! Don't stop to bargain for happiness, for in one wasted moment, a door may close, a ship may sail, a train may leave, a man may die. " ~ Rollo

Selina Dane: We'll be so proud of you: General Sir Roland Dane. 

General Sir Roland Dane a.k.a Rollo: No. If I have to choose between my army career and Lark. I know which I want. I want Lark! 

Selina Dane: You can't mean that. 

General Sir Roland Dane a.k.a Rollo: Believe me, I do. 

Incidentally, a group of larks is known as "An Exaltation". Exaltation- elation of mind or feeling;a feeling of intense well-being or exhilaration; rapture. Also, it is a zodiac symbol of positive influence.
Alouette, gentille alouette, Alouette, je te plumerai.
Je te plumerai la tête.
Je te plumerai la tête.Et la tête! Et la tête! Alouette! Alouette!
Je te plumerai le bec. Je te plumerai le bec. Et le bec! Alouette!
Je te plumerai les yeux. Je te plumerai les yeux. Et les yeux! Alouette!
Je te plumerai le cou. Je te plumerai le cou.Et le cou! Alouette!
Je te plumerai les ailes. Je te plumerai les ailes. Et les ailes! Alouette!
Je te plumerai les pattes. Je te plumerai les pattes. Et les pattes! Alouette!
Je te plumerai la queue. Je te plumerai la queue. Et la queue! Alouette!
Je te plumerai le dos. Je te plumerai le dos. Et le dos! Alouette!
Alouette, gentille alouette, Alouette, je te plumerai.
This song is the rather violent French version of Head-Shoulders-Knees-And-Toes.
It is used in Canada and France to teach children the parts of the body.

There are also some literary references to lark that are worth mentioning:

“The year's at the spring / And day's at the morn; / Morning's at seven; / The hillside's dew-pearled; / The lark's on the wing; / The snail's on the thorn; / God's in his heaven - / All's right with the world!” ~Robert Browning ( English Poet of the Victorian age 1812-1889)

“Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.”
~ William Shakespeare

"It was the lark, the herald of the morn." ~William Shakespeare

“None but the lark so shrill and clear; / How at heaven's gates she claps her wings, / The morn not waking till she sings.”  ~John Lyly

"Housework is a breeze. Cooking is a pleasant diversion. Putting up a retaining wall is a lark. But teaching is like climbing a mountain."~ Fawn M. Brodie

There is also a compelling 1884 painting by Jules Breton, called Song of the Lark. 

I love that you can't tell if it is the approaching dawn or dusk, if she is content or sad.  I love the subject is honest labor and that the song of the lark causes her a moment of pause.  My union president is the person who introduced me to this painting and I love it and the correlations is has in my life.

Another artistic reference to labor and the song of the lark is an 1882 painting by Winslow Homer, Hark! The Lark:

Three English North Sea village women pause mid morning work to listen to the morning song of the lark. They are tired but appear to be determined. On a sketch for this painting, Homer wrote: “Hark, hark! the lark at heaven’s gate sings/And Phoebus ’gins arise”—Shakespeare’s poetic nod to sunrise from Cymbeline.

Having a uncommon name certainly influenced my personality development, being the only Lark in my life has given me a strange context.  I've never had the feeling of being confused with one of the six other Jennifers or Ashleys in my school.  Between 1930 and 1940, only 62 people in the United States were given the name Lark.  Since the birth of the U. S. Air Force to 2012, only one other women (active duty and civilian) has the name Lark and she also was highly motivated, and had a long list of military accomplishments.  Perhaps the power of a name is enough to set someone apart from the rest.  This is not always a positive experience.

People have strong reactions to me: they love me or hate me with little middle ground.   Of course they are all completely biased and should not be trusted to give an accurate assessment. While one would hope to always be viewed in a favorable light, I also prefer to be authentically me:
A doer
A voice
A teacher
An observer
An organizer
An adventurer
A life-long learner
An obsessive cleaner
A truly happy morning person 

 Those who love me say I am the embodiment of my name.  I'd like to capture a few thoughts from some former students that they've shared with me this month.

One of my former students sent me this image with this copy: 

"When confronting challenges, she will never give up."
This is an enhanced photograph by © Hoang Hiep Nguyen/2013 Sony World Photography Awards

Another former student said: "I like it when you try to do impossible things."

Happy as a Lark as the day is long.
Lark about.
Goe to bed with the Lambe, and rise with the Larke.
For a lark.
On a lark.
No lark flew.
Kick up a lark.
What a lark!
On a lark's wing.
Click here to hear Tchaikovsky's Song of the Lark.  Click here to hear the Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams.  Click here to hear Glinka-Balakirev's The Lark.  Click here to hear Kate Rusby's folk song The Lark. Click here to hear Hayden's The Lark quartet piece.  Click here to hear the jazz piece Up With The Lark by Jerome Kern.   Also, you can click here to see a lovely photo of lark's eggs in a nest.

Please share any lark-findings you think are interesting in the comments below.


  1. My first name is Lark also. I happen to have a passion for traveling as well. :) I can totally relate to most of the things you wrote about. It's definitely a blessing and a curse, but mostly a blessing. :) When I was younger I used to feel "left out" because I had such a unique name, but I'm 21 now and I love having the name. It is easily remembered. The most common response to my name is "I've never heard that before." and sometimes I reply with: "I get that a lot. ;)" I agree that having a unique name forces you to have a certain kind of independence. Most people say that my name fits me well, and I couldn't think of a better name to fit myself either. The most trouble comes with meeting elderly folk with hearing difficulties.. that's when I hear "Mark?" "Clark?" "Laura?". I usually just repeat "Lark" as clear as possible, and they catch on soon enough. :) I have spent a lot of time around children in my lifetime and I've got all kinds of nicknames that way. Mostly because "Lark" can be tricky to pronounce for the youngin's. I've heard "Lock", "Wark", "Yark", "Yarky", "Garky", "Glocky".. I would say the most common nick name from children and adults is "Larky." Do you get that one a lot? It's cool seeing someone with the same name as me have a similar experience. Have a wonderful day, Lark! :)

  2. I enjoyed reading this blog. That has to be the most beautiful picture I have seen of you, Lark!

  3. @ Larkarama- YES to all the variations of the name and all the issues with people trying to understand it. I get a lot of mail for Mr. Mark, too. Ha ha. My email and Skype are also larkabroad, if you ever want to lark. :D