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Ode to the west wind imagery

ode to the west wind imagery

by WILCOX, Stewart C. [No Place]: Studies in Philology, 1950. First Edition. Reprinted from Studies in Philology, XLVII, 4, October1950. With a typed letter. took the Ode to the West Wind by Shelley, that is as the reflection of the Romantic Age. Sparks are imagery for the poet's poems that he. 25, 1819. It was published in 1820. Considered a prime example of the poet's passionate language and symbolic imagery, the ode invokes the spirit of the West.

: Ode to the west wind imagery

Ode to the west wind imagery
Ode to the west wind imagery
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Ode to the West Wind - Percy Shelley poem reading - Jordan Harling Reads

The use of symbols is a remarkable aspect of Shelly’s poetry. The symbol Shelley uses in his poems has become the universal symbols. His symbols are very conspicuous and rich in metaphorical implication.

In “Ode to West Wind “ the west wind is symbolized as destroyer as well as a preserver. It is seen as a great power of nature that destroys in order to create, that kills the unhealthy and the decaying to make way for the new and the fresh. Shelley believes that without destruction, life can not continue. This symbolization of the wind as where do i find uscis online account number "preserver" and "destroyer" furthers this hypothesis

He envisions the West Wind as a devastating force that has the strength to destroy the evils of the existing society and preserves the good thing of it. He sees it as a symbol of destruction and preservation, decay and regeneration death and resurrection. He invokes the West Wind to free his “dead thoughts” in order to prophecy a Renaissance among humanity “to quicken a new birth”.

In the beginning of the poem we find the destructive loon of the West wind.

In the first stanza of the poem the poet addresses the west wind as "Wild" and the "Breath of Autumn's Being." It is a powerful force which drives the dead leaves which are yellow, black, pale and hectic red, to distant places like ghosts from an enchanter. The west wind carries winged seeds to their dark wintry beds underground.

“Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead

Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,”

As a preserver west wind scatters the seeds and covers them first united national bank pa dust. Along with the dead leaves the West Wind scatters the seeds and covers them with dust. When the spring comes, the scattered seeds beget new plants. The new plants with their luxuriant foliage and flowers of bring colors and odors fill the landscape. Thus the nature gets a new life and a new look. So, symbolically the west wind is a destroyer of old modes of life and old customs and preserver of new ways of thoughts and new patterns of life.

He uses four kinds of colors namely “yellow”, ‘black’, “pale”, and “hectic red” in order to characterize the “leaves dead.” The colors are the colors of diseases. “The leaves dead” also symbolize all the aged practices, customs, traditions, institutions, rites and rituals.

The West wind also expresses the very spirit of Shelly. He envisions that the invisible West Wind scatters the clouds in the sky. These clouds are the signals of the coming rain. Rain carries away all the evils from the nature and brings a new look change. Shelley hopes that his “rain” of thoughts would cause regeneration among mankind sweeping away all the unjust. Thus, Shelley’s great passion for the regeneration of mankind and rebirth of a new world finds a fitting expression in the symbolization of the West Wind.

Shelly also symbolize the closing night as the dome of a vast tomb, in which the closing year will be buried. The accumulated water vapors also make the roof over the dying year and the atmosphere seems to be solid because of thick layers of dense clouds. The point is that Wind operates with the same and single point agenda: it destroys the dead and preserves the living.

Shelley also symbolize the Mediterranean as a person who is sleeping and dreaming of destruction of the palaces. During summer the Mediterranean and the Roman palaces and, the towers which remain submerged, are all quiet as if they seem to be sleeping because no storms appear to ruffle the surface of the sea in that season. But the wind agitates the sea and the palaces seem to quiver on account of the tremendous motion of the waves.

Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,

And tremble and despoil themselves: oh, hear!

Shelly expresses the hope that his dead thoughts will quicken a new birth and bring about a new condition of human life. Thus the poem ends with a note of hope and optimism: -

O Wind,

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

This “winter” symbolizes all the corruption, tyranny, superstition, social customs and social institutions of Shelley’s time. On the other hand “spring” stands for new life, free from all obstacles. Winter signifies death while spring brings us consciousness of regeneration of new life. Shelley believes that suffering will come to an end and joy and happiness will prevail as winter is followed by spring.

In the poem “Ode to Skylark” Shelley symbolizes the Skylark-“blithe spirit” as if it had the power to response. He offers a warm welcome to the Skylark.

The Skylark is unseen but still it is compared to a poet composing, a maiden in love, a glowworm throwing out its beams of light, a rose in bloom diffusing its scent, and the sound of rain on twinkling grass. Shelley finds the Skylark as the embodiment of all these qualities which can never be found in a single human being.

Shelley also symbolizes the human song as “an empty vaunt” comparing it with Skylark’s joyful songs. Humans also sing songs in praise of love or wine. They sing songs in order to celebrate a wedding or a victory but compared with the Skylark’s singing, all human songs would seem to be meaningless. We feel that there is some hidden want in human performance. Thus Shelley makes the bird Skylark a symbol of pure, unalloyed ad unrestricted happiness.

So, in conclusion we can say that Shelley uses the West Wind to symbolize the power of nature and of the imagination inspired by nature and makes the bird Skylark a symbol of happiness.


 “Ode to the west wind” was written by the famous England poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. It is one of the most successful romantic poem in Shelley’s work. The speaker sings the praises of the wild west wind and its power.

 “Ode to the west wind” was created in the background of the labor movement and revolutions of European countries in the early 19th century. So this poem showed the revolution spirit and the dedication and courage of the revolutionaries.
Shelley chooses many image of the nature and incorporates his imagery into these images. This work is fulfill with symbolism, metaphor and anthropomorphism. In first chapter, Shelly invokes the west wind in many ways. The west wind represents “breath of Autumn’s being”(Shelley line 1). It also is a “destroyer and preserver” (Shelley line 14) and “Wild Spirit” (Shelley line 13). By contrast, Shelley compares the spring wind to “Thine azure sister of the Spring” (Shelley line 9). The leaves symbolized ultra-reactionary and the wind is a metaphorical concept of the force of revolution. Coming to the second chapter, Shelley picks up some images like clouds, rain, lightening to describe the huge momentum of the west wind. In the last double sentence, black rain, fire and hail obviously reveals the power of the west wind. The poet’s view turns from the ground to high altitude. The west wind bring “the approaching storm” (Shelley line 23). It also announced that the storm of revolution was coming. In the begin of chapter 3, Shelley crates a beautiful scenery,
“Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lulled by the coil of his crystalline steams
Besides a pumice isle in Baiae’s bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave’s intenser day,(Shelley lines 29-34)”

“The blue Mediterranean” (Shelley line 30) symbolizes the corrupt government and Shelley keeps going to describe the strong power of the west wind. He wants to demonstrates the revolution will destroy everything came from the old dark world like the west wind will phone number santander customer service the sleeping old palaces and towers. Chapter 4 shows the will of sweeping away the reactionary and we can feel the hurt in the struggle from the two lines, “lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud! I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!” (Shelley line 43-44)The most famous line appears in the last chapter—“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” (Shelley line 70) It owns the deep philosophy-the new things will replace the old things and it declares that the dark and cold will past away and the warm spring is going to replace it.

“Ode to the west wind” ode to the west wind imagery one language feature-its terza rima, so the whole poem owns a musical beauty.
Percy Bysshe Shelley. Ode To The West Wind. NEW YORK: The MACMILLAN COMPANY, 1904. print

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What are the symbols used in the Ode to the West Wind?

“West wind” symbolizes the mighty power of nature, “dead leaves” are symbols of death and destruction, and “dying year” symbolizes the end of the season.

What is the tone of Ode to the West Wind?

The tone of “Ode to the West Wind” is somber contemplation.

What is the symbolic meaning of the west wind?

Shelley uses the West Wind to symbolize the power of nature and of the imagination inspired by nature. Unlike Mont Blanc, however, the West Wind is active and dynamic in poems, such as “Ode to the West Wind.” While Mont Blanc is immobile, the West Wind is an agent for change.

What is the entire poem Ode to the West Wind a metaphor for?

Apostrophe, Personification: Throughout the poem, the poet addresses the west wind as if manufactured homes for sale in idaho were a person. Metaphor: Comparison of the west wind to breath of Autumn’s being (line 1). Metaphor: Comparison of autumn to a living, breathing creature (line 1). Simile: Comparison of dead leaves to ghosts.

What kind of poem is the west wind?

‘Ode to the West Wind’ is a type of poem known as an ode.

What is the background of Ode to the West Wind?

Ode to the West Wind, poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, written at a single sitting on Oct. 25, 1819. It was published in 1820. Considered a prime example of the poet’s passionate language and symbolic imagery, the ode invokes the spirit of the West Wind, “Destroyer and Preserver,” the spark of creative vitality.

What other emotions does the west wind bring to the poet?

The poet welcomes the west wind because he enjoys the past memories of his native land and seems speak to him, calling him ‘brother’ to entice him home.It provides him wid happiness and joy as he feels homesick.

What is the poet’s prayer to the West Wind?

The speaker prays to the west wind to make him its lyre. A lyre is an ancient musical instrument, kind of like a small U-shaped harp. Lyres had special resonance for poets such as Shelley, as in Ancient Greece, poems would often be sung to the accompaniment… (The entire section contains 148 words.)

How is Ode to the West Wind a prayer?

Ode to the West Wind is in the form of a prayer to the wild west wind who ode to the west wind imagery portrayed both as destroyer and preserver. The poem is noted for its rich images, metaphors and lyrical quality. In the first stanza of the poem, Shelley describes the work of the Wild West Wind on the earth. The wind has godly qualities.

What is the name of the west wind?


What is the poet’s aim in Ode to the West Wind?

This seminar paper will discuss Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poems “Ode to the West Wind”. This attitude also influenced his poetry: it was visionary, too. Its aim was to show the people the way to freedom and happiness.

What message does Shelley wants to convey in Ode to West Wind?

In “Ode to the West Wind,” Shelley conveys the message that he would like the words he writes on leaves of paper to be scattered as far and wide as the West Wind scatters the leaves that fall from the trees in autumn. He is punning on leaves of paper and leaves on a tree.

What famous line is from Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind?

I. O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being, Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead.

Which figure of speech is best used for wild west wind?

The figure of speech used in Shelley’s description of the Mediterranean awakening with the advent of the west wind is personification. It is also a poetic conceit (and rather an extreme one).

Why is the West Wind considered both a destroyer and preserver?

Shelley concludes this opening section by calling the west wind a ‘Wild Spirit’ (recalling, perhaps, that the word spirit is derived from the Latin meaning ‘breath’, suggesting the wind) and branding it both a ‘destroyer’ and a ‘preserver’: a destroyer because it helps to bring the leaves down from the trees, but a …

Why is the west wind called a preserver?

Again it called preserver because it carries the seeds underground where they lie until the advent of spring. In spring the whole Nature puts on a new appearance of freshness and the hills and the plains are covered with beautiful flowers.

What is the meaning of the final line of Ode to the West Wind?

As soon as winter is finished, that means that spring is coming next, not far behind. For the entire poem, Shelley has been talking about the west wind, and all that it does. He describes in detail the times that the west wind blows, its effect on the earth and on people, and his feelings towards it.

What is the rhyme scheme of the west wind?

The Ode to the West Wind consists of five sonnets, which again consist of four triplets and a final couplet, like in the English sonnet. Each sonnet uses the terza rima. That is triplets with the rhyme scheme aba bcb cdc ded, which were first used by Dante Alighieri in his Divina Commedia (Encarta Dante Alighieri).


 Critically analyse Shelley’s use of imagery in his “ode to the west wind.” 

 Literarily imagery means imaginative language that produces pictures in the mind of people reading or listening. It refers to visual pictures of other sensory experiences evoked by the writer. It conveys word pictures. It evokes an imaginative, emotional response, as well as providing a vivid, specific description. Its application ranges all the way from the “mental pictures” experienced by the reader of a poem, to the totality of the elements which make up the poem. It is used, narrowly, to ameris bank online banking app only descriptions of visible objects and scenes. P. B. Shelley’s poems are full of fine word paintings. At times he presents these pictures with details at once simple and sumptuous and characterized by graphic certainty. The images that Shelley often gives in his lyrics are of light, wind, cloud and water, seaweeds and flowers, the bright and beautiful things of air and sea, unsullied by the debasing touch of man or his machine. His images are often highly daring, sweeping and drawn on a large scale. The best example is found in the images in “Ode to the West Wind.”

Shelley’s this ode abounds with dazzling images (His “Ode to the West Wind” is rich in imagery. The images used here are, decorative, apt and compelling and shows the influence of Greek literary art upon him. The images are effectively used to explain the theme of the poem clearly. They are characterised by their boldness and splendour. They are simultaneously natural, scientific, mythical and even Biblical. In the first three stanzas, Shelley praises the West Wind as the great symbol of force and power, of its destructive and creative might. In the first stanza, the West Wind is the destroyer of leaves and of seeds which are buried under the earth in autumn and in winter to be regenerated in spring The same theme is repeated in the second stanza, where this praise and invocation is continued with the change-over to the description of the Wind as a bringer of clouds, vapours, rain, hail and lightning. In the third stanza, the praise and description of the wind as the source of power and thought rise to a crescendo, with the twin images of the exertion of the force of the wind. In the fourth stanza there is an outpouring of his anguish and suffering, which culminates almost into a shriek of agony in the image: 

                     “I fall upon the throne of life! I bleed!”

In the last stanza comes the mighty prophecy of Hope and Faith on the triumph of love and spirit over tyranny and forces of darkness.

In the first stanza, the Wind sweeps away withered leaves of trees as quickly and mysteriously as ghosts vanish from the presence of a magician. The ghosts. symbolize death, which image is further enlarged upon, the use of the sickly colour effects. The “yellow”, “black” and “pale” are colour words that give us pictures of disease, calamity and death. This death imagery reaches its climax when the fleeing, dead leaves are compared to people rushing away “pestilence stricken”. This plague is perhaps the most violent form of death imagery. The image of the “chariot” is very significant. A chariot carries a king with due ceremony; likewise, the wind conveys the seeds amidst splendid dusty displays. The images of the archangel blowing clarion are biblical.

In the second stanza, the imagery of the leaves is replaced by the human imagination. The sky is imaged as a forest on a mountain slope. It is also imaged as a tree from whose boughs the leaves are shaken down. Shelley employs the mythological image of the fierce Maenad. The dark masses of moving clouds are imaged as the glossy hair of a Macnab streaming up from her head as she dances in religious frenzy. In the second half of the stanza, the images are drawn from the world of death and destruction. The blue Mediterranean sea is placid. This is represented by the images of the sea lulled to sleep and dream by “the coil of his crystalline streams”. These images are expressive of Shelley’s high imaginative power.

There are two main images in the third stanza. The placid Mediterranean in summer is imaged as asleep, dreaming of old palaces and towers. The underwater vegetation shedding the leaves is imaged as a man losing his glowing appearance when fears grip him. In the fourth stanza, the autumnal forest is imaged as a sports car club of america. The poet brings in the images of a dying hearth to describe his mind. He compares his mind to pnc credit card payment hearth. The poem ends with the image of the cycle of seasons of spring following on the heels of winter. This image is suggestive of the autumnal decay and the barrenness of winter, making the world desolate.

The poem is remarkable for the kaleidoscopic fertility of images. Shelley has presented before us many images in quick succession. Shelley here presents evocative descriptions of the West Wind, enacting its drama on the three levels of Nature – the land, the sky and the sea. The telescoping of the images that can be noticed here gives the poem a beauty of its own. The images add to the beauty and excellence of this poem.

                                       Shelley's use of imagery in his "ode to the west wind"

Shelley shows his special interest in using the image of musical instruments. In this poem, the forest is a lyre on which the wind plays mighty harmonies. The poet appeals to the wind to make him his lyre. He asserts the essential harmony existing between humanity and nature, with all living things participating in the oneness of the universe. The poem ends with the image of dreary winter followed by spring which symbolizes regeneration.

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Percy Bysshe Shelley by Alfred Clint crop.jpg


Percy Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" very much portrays the power of nature in poetry as well as Shelly's ability to utilize that power and create a piece that for generations has been looked at as a poem about much more than a person observing nature on a windy day.  Shelley’s poem portrays a force of nature, the West Wind, that can be both powerfully destructive but also a force that brings a renewal of life.  Percy Shelley believed that poems should have deep meaning and inspire humans to re-energize their lives and the world around them.  The great thing about “Ode to the West Wind” is that it can be looked at in a political way and just a natural way that shows the both the beauty and destructive power of nature.  In the end, the poet comes to appreciate the natural way of things and wishes that cash america pawn corpus christi tx too can be just as powerful as the West Wind.

Major Themes

Percy Shelley believed that poetry should be written in order to transform the world into a better place. To Shelley, poets were the unelected legislators of the world; they had the ability to either promote good change or destructive change. It is no surprise that many of his poems can be read through a political lens and rightfully should be read that way. Another theme identifiable in the poem is nature and its power to be both beautiful and destructive. In "Mont Blanc" the poet observes a massive mountain; he soaks in the beauty. The mountain will be there for future generations to do the same kind of observing as he is doing in the poem; even if the poem dies with him, the mountain will remain and in a sense his poem will never die. The emotion that he received from the mountain will be re-birthed in future generations.


Shelley seems to use his poetry as a way to make political statements. Poetry is Shelley's way of trying to change the world. Starting on line 63 the poet says, "Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,/ Like withered leaves, to quicken personalized airplane piggy bank new birth,/ And, by incantation of this verse,/ Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth/ Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind" (63-66). Many critics have seen this as Shelley's way of saying amazon work from home salary his words/poems/thoughts be blown around the world.

Nature in this sense is a metaphor for Shelley's works. As wind cannot be seen nor can the poet; and to Shelley, poets are the unseen/unelected legislators of the world.

Shelley sees himself, or all real poets, as human sacrifices. They give up their ambitions in order to help the world progress, "Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,/ Like withered leaves." The poet is giving up his self and all lust in order to help the world have a rebirth (63-64).

As one author says, “Should poets retreat from the corrupt world or should they sacrifice their own lives to liberate and revitalize the dispossessed.”  Percy Shelley seems to think that if he has the power to help bring forth change, like the West Wind, then he must do everything within his ability to help.   

Another way that nature might be used in a political sense is its correlation to revolution.  Even though revolution is not specifically mentioned, nature can be interpreted as a metaphor for revolution.  As said stated above, the poet does wish to have his thoughts spread across the world.    


Shelley uses many images from nature in "Ode." Nature plays many different roles in his poems. In this poem particular he shows two sides of nature. Nature can be both beautiful and destructive; nature in this sense can be something sublime. This sometimes beautiful force, the West Wind, brings with it "Black ode to the west wind imagery, and fire, and hail." and whose "decaying leaves are shed" (28, 16). As with the tyger in William Blake's "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of experience" beauty can have a frightening aspect to it. The tyger has in the poem looks beautiful but harmless. However, the tyger can be ferocious and bring death. Nature can be both forces. The West Wind in the "Ode" is something that brings life and also brings death, "Wild spirit, which art moving everywhere; / Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!" (13-14). One minute nature can be destructive and the next it can be gorgeous, inspiring poems, songs, and revolution. To Shelley, nature is the liberator of the human mind. Even though this wind from the West signals the beginning of Autumn, which in literary terms typically signifies impending death because winter follows, it also brings spring of which signifies a renewal or rebirth. In literary terms Spring means life; trees are sprouting and birds are singing when Spring comes around.

One way to tie nature to politics is the destructive and solano county court calendar beauty of revolution. Revolutions, like the American Revolution, brought about good. However, revolutions like the French Revolution were viewed by many romantic poets as destructive; this revolution at ode to the west wind imagery time was happening for good change but all that many poets and writers could see at the time was destructiveness. Many had faith that eventually something good would come from the French Revolution but many had lost faith. Shelley believed that this was just a part of the cycle, much things to do in poplar bluff mo the seasons. The wind that brought winter also brings life; so, in a sense revolution might be shaky in the beginning but with the natural flow, new life will come out of revolution.

In the end the poet has a very ode to the west wind imagery viewpoint. The poet knows that Winter will come again, as will Autumn, Spring, and Summer, "O Wind, / If winter comes, can Spring be far behind" (69-70). Wind brings the seasons. Wind also brings storms and destruction. The West Wind is like the Tyger, but the West Wind cannot be seen but it is still just as sublime.

Relevance to Romanticism and Revolution/Gothic/Nature

Percy Shelley's obsession with nature is key to the Romantic period. Shelley uses nature to address social issues and political issues. "Mont Blanc" and "Ode to the West Wind" are some of the best examples when it comes nature and revolution. Shelley believed that a better understanding of nature and science would lead to a new enlightenment; perhaps this realization would lead people to a new way of thinking and move away from organized religion. Words cannot describe and cannot do justice to nature all the time. In Shelley's "A Defense of Poetry" he writes that "When composition begins, inspiration is already on the decline." So, inspiration might be lost but according to Andrew Franta in his Shelley and the Poetics of Political Indirection, The poets loss is the worlds gain" (Franta 786).

When looking at the significance of "Ode to the West Wind" it's hard not to notice the revolutionary aspects of the poem. The French Revolution was meant to do good and stop the corruption in the government; however, it turned bad and almost turned into absolute anarchy. The West Wind shows the natural way of seasons. One wind might bring destruction but that same wind can also bring forth new life; it has both the power to take life and give it. The poet has an optimistic view on how things will turn out in the end of poem knowing that Spring will return.

Politically Shelley was revolutionary in his works. In "Ode" he shows how significant a poem can be, or at least how significant he hope it will be to future generations. The poet wishes to dedicate and sacrifice his life in order that his wisdom and words spread across the globe in order to bring renewal. Shelley's poems will bring other writers to think about the significance of social issues and political issues in their writings.

In the poem Shelley was able to show all the ode to the west wind imagery different themes that went along with Romantic Poetry. He used nature as a metaphor in order to address political and social issues. He showed how nature can be a part of the sublime; with this he also showed how something one cannot even see, wind, can be sublime. The wind is destructive and brings death but also can be beautiful and bring life.

Sources and Relevant Links

  • Damrosch, David. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012. 889-891. Print.
  • Shelley's Ode to the West Wind Henry S. Pancoast Modern Language Notes Vol. 35, No. 2 (Feb., 1920)pp. 97-100 Published by: The Johns Hopkins

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Further Reading

  • Demson, Michael. "Percy Shelley's Radical Agrarian Politics." Romanticism 16.3 (2010): 279-292. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.
  • McInnis, David. "Humoral Theory As An Organizing Principle In Shelley's "Ode To The West Wind"?." Anq 20.2 (2007): 32-34. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.

Ode to the West Wind

1820 publication in the collection Prometheus Unbound with Other Poems
1820 cover of Prometheus Unbound, C. and J. Collier, London

"Ode to the West Wind" is an ode, written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1819 in Cascine wood[1] near Florence, Italy. It was originally published in 1820 by Charles in London as part of the collection Prometheus Unbound, A Lyrical Drama in Four Acts, With Other Poems.[2] Perhaps more than anything else, Shelley wanted his message of reform and revolution spread, and the wind becomes the trope for spreading the word of change through the poet-prophet figure. Some also believe that the poem was written in response to the loss of his son, William (born to Mary Shelley) in 1819. The ensuing pain influenced Shelley. The poem allegorises the role of the poet as the voice of change and revolution. At the time of composing this poem, Shelley without doubt had the Peterloo Massacre of August 1819 in mind. His other poems written at the same time—"The Masque of Anarchy", Prometheus Unbound, and "England in 1819"—take up these same themes of political change, revolution, and role of the poet.[3]


In ancient Greek tradition, an ode was considered a form of formal public invocation. It was usually a poem with a complex structure and was chanted or sung on important religious or state ceremonies. According to Harold Bloom, "Ode to the West Wind" reflects two types of ode traditions: odes written by Pindar and the Horatian ode. The odes of Pindar were exalted in tone and celebrated human accomplishments, whereas the Horatian odes were personal and contemplative rather than public. Shelley combines the two elements in this poem. In the English tradition, the ode was more of a "vehicle for expressing the sublime, lofty thoughts of intellectual and spiritual concerns". This purpose is also reflected in Shelley's ode.[1]


"Ode to the West Wind" consists of five sections (cantos) written in terza rima. Each section consists of four tercets (ABA, BCB, CDC, DED) and a rhyming couplet (EE). The ode is written in iambic pentameter.

The poem begins with three sections describing the wind's effects upon earth, air, and ocean. In the last two sections, the poet speaks directly to the wind, asking for its power, to lift him up and make him its companion in its wanderings. The poem ends with an optimistic note which is that if winter days are here then spring is not very far.

Interpretation of the poem[edit]

The poem can be divided in two parts: the first three cantos are about the qualities of the Wind and each ends with the invocation "Oh hear!" The last two cantos give a relation between the Wind and the speaker. Each canto of the poem has its own theme which connects to the central idea.

First Canto[edit]

The first stanza begins with the alliteration "wild West Wind" (line 1). The form of the apostrophe makes the wind also a personification. However, one must not think of this ode as an optimistic praise of the wind; it is clearly associated with autumn. The first few lines contain personification elements, such as "leaves dead" (2), the aspect of death being highlighted by the inversion which puts "dead" (2) at the end of the line. These leaves haunt as "ghosts" (3) that flee from something that panics them.

"chariotest" (6) is the second person singular. The "corpse within its grave" (8) in the next line is in contrast to the "azure sister of the Spring" (9)—a reference to the east wind—whose "living hues and odours" (12) evoke a strong contrast to the colours of the fourth line of the poem that evoke death. In the last line of this canto the west wind is considered the "Destroyer" (14) because it drives the last signs of life from the trees, and the "Preserver" (14) for scattering the seeds which will come to life in the spring,

Second Canto[edit]

The second canto of the poem is much more fluid than the first one. The sky's "clouds"(16) are "like earth's decaying leaves" (16). They are a reference to the second line of the first canto ("leaves dead", 2).They also are numerous in number like the dead leaves. Through this reference the landscape is recalled again. The "clouds" (16) are "Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean" (17). This probably refers to the fact that the line between the sky and the stormy sea is indistinguishable and the whole space from the horizon to the zenith is covered with trailing storm clouds. The "clouds" can also be seen as "Angels of rain" (18). In a biblical way, they may be messengers that bring a message from heaven down to earth through rain and lightning. These two natural phenomena with their "fertilizing and illuminating power" bring a change.

Line 21 begins with "Of some fierce Maenad" and again the west wind is part of the second canto of the poem; here he is two things at once: first he is "dirge/Of the dying year" (23–24) and second he is "a prophet of tumult whose prediction is decisive"; a prophet who does not only bring "black rain, and fire, and hail" (28), but who "will burst" (28) it. The "locks of the approaching storm" (23) are the messengers of this bursting: the "clouds".

Shelley also mentions that when the West Wind blows, it seems to be singing a funeral song about the year coming to an end and that the sky covered with a dome of clouds looks like a "sepulchre", i.e., a burial chamber or grave for the dying year or the year which is coming to an end.

Shelley in this canto "expands his vision from the earthly scene with the leaves before him to take in the vaster commotion of the skies". This means that the wind is now no longer at the horizon and therefore far away, but he is exactly above us. The clouds now reflect the image of the swirling leaves; this is a parallelism that gives evidence that we lifted "our attention from the finite world into the macrocosm". The "clouds" can also be compared with the leaves; but the clouds are more unstable and bigger than the leaves and they can be seen as messengers of rain and lightning as it was mentioned above.

Third Canto[edit]

This refers to the effect of west wind in the water. The question that comes up when reading the third canto at first is what the subject of the verb "saw" (33) could be. On the one hand there is the "blue Mediterranean" (30). With the "Mediterranean" as subject of the canto, the "syntactical movement" is continued and there is no break in the fluency of the poem; it is said that "he lay, / Lull'd by the coil of his crystalline streams, / Beside a pumice isle in Baiae's bay, / And saw in sleep old palaces and towers" (30–33). On the other hand, it is also possible that the lines of this canto refer to the "wind" again. Then the verb that belongs to the "wind" as subject is not "lay", but the previous line of this canto, that says Thou who didst waken . And saw" (29, 33). But whoever—the "Mediterranean" or the "wind"—"saw" (33) the question remains whether the city one of them saw, is real and therefore a reflection on the water of a city that really exists on the coast; or the city is just an illusion. Pirie is ode to the west wind imagery sure of that either. He says that it might be "a creative you interpretation of the billowing seaweed; or of the glimmering sky reflected on the heaving surface". Both possibilities seem to be logical. To explain the appearance of an underwater world, it might be easier to explain it by something that is realistic; and that might be that the wind is able to produce illusions on new mexico bank and trust mortgage water. With its pressure, the wind "would waken the appearance of a city". From what is known of chase bank open around me "wind" from the last two cantos, it became clear that the wind is something that plays the role of a Creator. Whether the wind creates real things or illusions does not seem to be that important. Baiae's bay (at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples) actually contains visible Roman ruins underwater (that have been shifted due to earthquakes.) Obviously the moss and flowers are seaweed. It appears as if the third canto shows—in comparison with the previous cantos—a turning-point. Whereas Shelley had accepted death and changes in life in the first and second canto, he now turns to "wistful reminiscence [, recalls] an alternative possibility of transcendence". From line 26 to line 36 he gives an image of nature. But if we look closer at line 36, we realise that the sentence is not what it appears to be at first sight, because it obviously means, so sweet that one feels faint in describing them. This shows that the idyllic picture is not what it seems to be and that the harmony will certainly soon be destroyed. A few lines later, Shelley suddenly talks about "fear" (41). This again shows the influence of the west wind which announces the change of the season.

Fourth Canto[edit]

Whereas the cantos one to three began with "O wild West Wind" and "Thou" (15, 29) and were clearly directed to the wind, there is a change in the fourth canto. The focus is no more on the "wind", but on the speaker who says "If I ." (43–44). Until this part, the poem has appeared very anonymous and was only concentrated on the wind and its forces so that the author of the poem was more or less forgotten. Pirie calls this "the suppression of personality" which finally vanishes at that part of the poem. It becomes more and more clear that what the author talks about now is himself. That this must be true, shows the frequency of the author's use of the first-person pronouns "I" (43–44, 48, 51, 54), "my" (48, 52), and "me" (53). These pronouns appear nine times in the fourth canto. Certainly the author wants to dramatise the atmosphere so that the reader recalls the situation of canto one to three. He achieves this by using the same pictures of the previous cantos in this one. Whereas these pictures, such as "leaf", "cloud", and "wave" have existed only together with the wind, they are now existing with the author. The author thinks about being one of them and says "If I were a. . ." (43 ff.). Shelley here identifies himself with the wind, although he knows that he cannot do that, because it is impossible for someone to put all the things he has learned from life aside and enter a "world of innocence". That Shelley is deeply aware of his closedness in life and his identity shows his command in line 53. There he says "Oh, lift me up as a wave, a leaf, a cloud" (53). He knows that this is something impossible to achieve, but he does not stop praying for it. The only chance Shelley sees to make his prayer and wish for a new identity with the Wind come true is by pain or death, as death leads to rebirth. So, he wants to "fall upon the thorns of life" and "bleed" (54).

At the end of the canto the poet tells us that "a heavy weight of hours has chain'd and bow'd" (55). This may be a reference to the years that have passed and "chained and bowed" (55) the hope of the people who fought for freedom and were literally imprisoned. With this knowledge, the West Wind becomes a different meaning. The wind is the "uncontrollable" (47) who is "tameless" (56).

One more thing that one should mention is that this canto sounds like a kind of prayer or confession of the poet. This confession does not address God and therefore sounds very impersonal.

Shelley also changes his use of metaphors in this canto. In the first cantos the wind was a ode to the west wind imagery explained at full length. Now the metaphors are only weakly presented—"the thorns of life" (54). Shelley also leaves out the fourth element: the fire. In the previous cantos he wrote about the earth, the air and the water. The reader now expects the fire—but it is not there. This leads to a break in the symmetry.

Fifth Canto[edit]

Again and again the wind is very important in this last canto. At the beginning of the poem the wind was only capable of blowing the leaves from the trees. In the previous canto the poet identified himself with the leaves. In this canto the wind is now capable of using both of these things mentioned before.

Everything that had been said before was part of the elements—wind, earth, and water. Now the fourth element comes in: the fire.

There is also a confrontation in this canto: Whereas in line 57 Shelley writes "me thy", there is "thou me" in line 62. These pronouns appear seven times in the fifth canto. This "signals a restored confidence, if not in the poet’s own abilities, at least in his capacity to communicate with [. .] the Wind".

It is also necessary to mention that the first-person pronouns again appear in a great frequency; but the possessive pronoun "my" predominates. Unlike the frequent use of the "I" in the previous canto that made the canto sound self-conscious, this canto might now sound self-possessed. The canto is no more a request or a prayer as it had been in the fourth canto—it is a demand. The poet becomes the wind's instrument, his "lyre" (57). This is a symbol of the poet's own passivity towards the wind; he becomes his musician and the wind's breath becomes his breath. The poet's attitude—towards the wind has changed: in the first canto the wind has been an "enchanter" (3), now the wind has become an "incantation" (65).

And there is another contrast between the two last cantos: in the fourth canto the poet had articulated himself in singular: "a leaf" (43, 53), "a cloud" (44, 53), "A wave" (45, 53) and "One too like thee" (56). In this canto, the "sense of personality as vulnerably individualised led to self-doubt" and the greatest fear was that what was "tameless, and swift, and proud" (56) will stay "chain'd and bow'd" (55). The last canto differs from that. The poet in this canto uses plural forms, for example, "my leaves" (58, 64), "thy harmonies" (59), "my thoughts" (63), "ashes and sparks" (67) and "my lips" (68). By the use of the plural, the poet is able to show that there is some kind of peace and pride in his words. It even seems as if he has redefined himself because the uncertainty of the previous canto has been blown away. The "leaves" merge with those of an entire forest and "Will" become components in a whole tumult of mighty harmonies. The use of this "Will" (60) is certainly a reference to the future. Through the future meaning, the poem itself does not only sound as something that might have happened in the past, but it may even be a kind of "prophecy" (69) for what might come—the future.

At last, Shelley again calls the Wind in a kind of prayer and even wants him to be "his" Spirit: "My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!" (62). Like the leaves of the trees in a forest, his leaves will fall and decay and will perhaps soon flourish again when the spring comes. That may be why he is looking forward to the spring and asks at the end of the last canto "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" (70). This is of course a rhetorical question because spring does come after winter, but the "if" suggests that it might not come if the rebirth is strong and extensive enough, and if it is not, another renewal—spring—will come anyway. Thus the question has a deeper meaning and does not only mean the change of seasons, but is a reference to death and rebirth as well. It also indicates that after the struggles and problems in life, there would always be a solution. It shows us the optimistic view of the poet about life which he would like the world to know. It is an interpretation of his saying, If you are suffering now, there will be good times ahead. But the most powerful call to the Wind are the lines: "Drive my dead thoughts over the universe/like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!" Here Shelley is imploring—or really chanting to—the Wind to blow away all of his useless thoughts so that he can be a vessel for the Wind and, as a result, awaken the Earth.


This poem is a highly controlled text about the role of the poet as the agent of political and moral change.[citation needed] This was a subject Shelley wrote a great deal about, especially around 1819, with this strongest version of it articulated the last famous lines of his "Defence of Poetry": "Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle, and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but phone number santander customer service. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world."



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A Sense Of Powerlessness In Ode To The West Wind

Analysis Of Percy Shelley's Ozymandias And Ode To The West Wind

In this poem about wind, Shelley speaks out how it is an amazing and strange thing and how it can ruin or allow new life for different things. He thinks that the wind can do many different things, he thinks that a person can learn from the wind. “In order to blow his thoughts far and wide, the poet figuratively puts the west wind in his own mouth” (Johnson, Jeannine. "An overview of “Ode to the West Wind"), Shelley wants the wind to take his ideas and blow it far away, to different areas of the world so others can hear what he can you give me the weather for tomorrow to say. “Drive my dead thought over the universe like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!” (page 872, line 63-64), He wants others to hear about his thoughts and he thinks that if the wind can do anything, though it’s unrealistic, he wants to the wind to blow his ideas north, south, east, and west in order for others to hear what he has on his mind and has to say.…

ode to the west wind imagery

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