Analysis of Shellys Ode to the West Wind


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Analysis of Shellys Ode to the West Wind

Analysis of Shelly's "Ode to the West Wind"

“Ode to the West Wind” is a poem of deep despair as well as one of vivid imagery. The first section is fairly straightforward with constant references to death, corpses and destruction that Shelly uses as a metaphor for autumn. The allusion to disease and darkness describes the West Wind in this first section. Shelly sees it as a sort of ‘grim reaper’ but seems to come back from the whole topic by also calling it the “preserver”.

In the second section Shelly takes a more lofty perspective in the beginning mentioning heaven and angels and then moves to give a depiction of hell in the last line of the section with “black rain and fire and hail will burst”. To be a little more precise, the second section is one comparing an oncoming storm to the end of a year. Perhaps Shelly feels that the next year will not be as good as the last and one can even speculate that the west winds are the winds of change or even of evil.

I feel that the third section really supports the theory that Shelly did portray the west wind as the bringer of evil. The wind is described to be awakened from a place of peace and beauty. The line “Thy voice, and suddenly grow grey with fear” seems to describe a sense of darkness and loathing, a chilling feeling flowing through the veins. The west wind is power.

The fourth section plays on the feeling that this wind is all-powerful and Shelly seems to give the impression of bowing down before it. Impulses, uncontrollable, tame-less are all words used to describe the wind in this section. In almost a begging tone the speaker of the poem asks to be taken away from his pain as said “Oh! Lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud! / I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!”. Going back in the poem though the west wind seems to have created this and the speaker loathes it, but here shows he also still needs it.

The final section seems to come to terms with the west wind. The asking for music even though the leaves are gone and there is not to celebrate shows this perspective: I will still play but it will be one of sadness.

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The speaker asks for his ‘dead’ thoughts to be taken away and to scatter them for all to know. This shows also he has come to terms with the find by again asking its help for the speaker to come to terms with himself. In the end it is the realization to the speaker that spring follows the dismal winter the west wind brings that seems to end the fairly dark poem on a lighter note.


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