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Ode to The West Wind Analysis by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ode to the west wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley is the poet’s appeal to this strong element of nature to make the poet as swift, powerful and free as itself. In this ode he has manifested the power of the West Wind through a series of bold imageries and metaphors which makes it one of the most creative pieces of poetry written in the Romantic Age. Go through the following to understand Ode to the West Wind Analysis.

Summary of Ode to The West Wind – Stanza One

In this Ode to West Wind summary we will discuss how Shelley observes the West Wind as a destroyer and a preserver. The poet sketches the picture of the West Wind as the breath of the season of autumn which flows through the trees and rustles away its dead leaves. These dead leaves in their colors of black and hectic red, look like disease stricken ghosts trying to escape the spells of an enchanter.

Apart from dead leaves, the West Wind also carries winged seeds with itself to bury them within the ground in their “dark wintery bed” like corpses within their grave. In doing so they make it possible for the seeds to regenerate and come to life again when the West Wind’s sister, The East Wind infuses life in them during spring time making them paint the face of earth with a lot of cheerful colors. Here Shelley compares the East Wind to a shepherd who drives its flocks of seeds to bloom in fresh air. By fusing death and birth together in the first canto, the poet explains why he calls the West Wind a “Destroyer and Preserver”!

Analysis of Ode to The West Wind – Stanza Two

In the summary of Ode to the West Wind’s second stanza we will get a picture of the fierce storm which the West Wind brings along with it. The poet describes the West Wind as a stream on which the clouds are strewn across like dead leaves of the imaginary tree which has its roots and boughs in the oceans of Earth and heaven respectively.

These dead leaves or clouds after being plucked cover the blue surface of this fierce wind with rain and lighting.  These clouds because of their fierce look during the storm have been compared to the disheveled hair of Maenad who is the crazy worshipper of the God of Vine, Bacchus. The fierce storm with its lightning and thundershowers seem to be the funeral song of the dying year with the vapors being the dome atop its grave!

Explanation of Ode to the West Wind – Stanza Three

In the third canto the poet gives us an insight into the tremendous strength of the West Wind by describing the effect which this element of nature has on the otherwise peaceful Mediterranean and the Atlantic. The West Wind wakes the sleeping Mediterranean from its summer sleep where it dreams about moss covered castles and towers submerged within its depths.

The West Wind carves chasms on the surface of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic through which it enters the ocean and makes the vegetation below the ocean turn gray with fear as they tremble and shake under the powerful impact of this fierce wind.

Explanation of Ode to the West Wind – Stanza Four

Ode to the west wind analysis of the fourth verse is Shelley’s appeal to this strong wind from which he derives his inspiration to see him through the struggles of life. The poet wishes from the deepest corners of his heart to be turned into a dead leaf or a cloud which the West Wind can carry with it such that he could experience the wind’s swiftness and freedom!

He urges the West Wind to take him back to his boyhood days when he used to look up the Wind as his accomplice and had the potential to out-speed the Wind with his spirit and vivacity. But now times have changed and the poet is tied down by the miseries of life making him need the West Wind’s help more than ever! The poet calls out to the West Wind and requests it to lift him with itself and set him free from his pains.

Explanation of Ode to the West Wind – Stanza Five

In the fifth canto the poet expresses the desire to mingle with his fierce source of inspiration. He appeals to the West Wind to make him his lyre upon which the West Wind could play its songs full of life. He wants his lips to be the trumpet through which the West Wind awakens the earth such that the West Wind and the poet become one. The poet portrays himself as an extinguished hearth and requests the Wind to scatter his sparks and ashes. He wants the West Wind to carry his dead thoughts all over the world just like it carries the dead leaves, so that the poet can be heard.

The poet ends this canto on a note which adds a hint of optimism to the poem. He ends it with the question “If winter comes can spring be far behind?” which takes this ode to a whole different level in the world of poetry. By this ending question, the poet, in-spite of reeling under worldly miseries infuses hope in his poetry by hinting that the darkest hours are always followed by the light of good times.

About Shreya Bardhan

Shreya Bardhan is a web content analyst and has written for numerous blogs and websites. She holds a bachelor's degree in English!

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