Analysis of Ode to West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Read this article to know about Ode to West Wind Analysis by Percy Bysshe Shelley.


“Ode to the West Wind” is an ode, written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1819 near Florescent, Italy. It was originally published in 1820 by Edmund Ollier and Charles in London. This poem is about the feelings of the speaker’s inability to the people those who are in England because he stays in Italy so he decides to write a poem through which he expresses the hope and whoever reads his poem will get an inspiration so he uses the “wind” as the medium of “hope”. And this poem is critically analyzed by the wind’s qualities and the relationship between the author and the wind.

Ode to West Wind Analysis

Shelley speaks to the west wind for four times in the first stanza. In general winter season portrays early season especially in European countries because during that time they cannot come out and enjoys with nature but there is something different than the poet elevates the wind as the “breath of autumn“.

Eventually, a tree has both fresh and dead leaves but here the wind sweeps away only the dead leaves. Generally, a dead leaf looks in black or brown in color but here very strangely those dead leaves are in yellow, pale and hectic red color.

The wind is described as carrying seeds because it represents here as dead leaves, how the dead leaves are spreads over graveyard during the autumn season as the same this wind carrying the seeds to the grave like places in the ground, and those seeds will stay until the spring wind comes and revives them. How true lovers live even after their death as the same here even if the west wind buries the seeds into the ground but the spring wind has the power to regenerate the seeds. The way a Shepherd drives sheep as the same spring wind gives rebirth the dead leaves.

The speaker exalts wind as “wild spirit “which moves all over the places“. The west wind compares as both “Destroyer and Preserver ” I would like to compare the west wind to “Jesus Christ ” because in the Old Testament he portrayed himself as a “Punishing God” but in the New Testament he portrayed himself as a “Forgiving God” even to the people who killed him brutally. Thus, the winter brings death but also makes possible the registration of spring.

Second, the speaker extols the wind is spread through clouds the way dead leaves float in a stream. Leaves walk out from the branches of trees and these clouds walk out from the “branches” of the sky and the sea which joins together like “angels of rain and lightning” to create clouds and weather systems. The storm which the west wind brings is spread through the airy “blue surface ” of the West wind in the same way Maenad a savage woman who hangs out with the God Dionysus in Greek mythology. The speaker uses an unpleasant metaphor to describe the power of the West wind.

The wind is described as a ‘drige’ a mournful song, to mark the years which have got over. Thus, the poet has some kind of an unexpressed love towards wind so he wants the wind to hear him again. Shelley tells us about the peculiar exploits of the West wind. Usually, the sea gets dry during the summer time but the here Mediterranean Sea has lain calm and still during the summer time too. During the vacation time, ancient Romans come to Bride’s bay to spend their leisure time and it’s their holiday spot as well but the west wind has woken the Mediterranean Sea and also making the sea jerk.

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In addition, sea used to compare with “woman” but here Shelley compares the with the man. This shows the unique style of Shelley. During the summertime, everyone feels sleepy so the Mediterranean has seen in his dreams the old palaces and towers along with Baiae’bay those places are now overgrown with plants so that they have become overwhelming.

The level of the Atlantic Ocean breaks itself into a different perspective for the west wind. The poet feels that though the sea is big and huge it’s only subordinate to the west wind moreover if the sea gets waves it is only because of the West wind’s superpowers.

The structure of the Atlantic ocean is something unstructured one because none can measure the depth of this ocean inside of this there are different types of marine plants are there once they hear the sound of the West wind as I mentioned before its one of the deep asylum ocean sounds cannot enter into the water but the “west wind sound” goes into the ocean once they hear its sounds suddenly they “grow grey with fear” and harming themselves in the process so that much superpower the west wind possess within.

If a speaker wants to express about a famous person or tell about an interesting subject either that speaker must be a scholar in that subject nor that the speaker personally close with the person whom he/she going to express as well as here the speaker has a strong connectivity with the west wind. He compromises himself by saying that he cannot be a leaf or a cloud but when he was young he had a great lovely relationship with the west wind.

When he was young he felt that it was possible for him to be faster and more powerful than the Westwind. The speaker openly expresses his desire towards the Westwind. He wishes that if were a “dead leaf” or a ‘swift cloud’ the Westwind could carry him by his wave and the speak could felt Westwind’s power and strength.

Here the speaker admits himself that if he could have been a leaf or cloud or feel young and powerful he wouldn’t ask Westwind for help so he begs the Westwind to treat him as the Westwind treats the natural objects like waves and leaves and clouds. He says that though he falls upon the thorns and weighed him down and bowed his spirit which started out “tameless and swift and proud ” just like the Westwind itself.

Finally, Shelley asks the Westwind for one thing that he wants the wind to turn him into “lyre“. This desire is related to the aeolian harp, the specialty of this instrument is that music will be arising from the action of the wind but the only thing that the instrument needs to put out in the breeze of nature. When the wind touches the trees they start to speak with each other perhaps that sound gives fear but it will nice hear.

As the same the speaker portrays as an instrument so he wants the west wind to touch him by its wind so that the speaker will play the music whenever the wind touches him. The speaker and the trees both are in the process of losing their self but that does not matter rather if the wind takes them as it’s instrumented they will make sweet melancholic music.

The speaker changes the methods of asking the wind to play him like an instrument rather he asks the wind to become him. He wants to get the whole spirit of the wind within him so he wants to replace his spirit with the wind’s spirit. Shelley compares his thoughts to the dead leaves. He says that the Westwind perhaps takes his ideas and thoughts to the all over places it goes as it takes the “dead leaves” even if the thoughts are garbage at least the garbage can fertilize something better.

The speaker got another metaphor but this time he describes his mouth as a “trumpet” through which the wind will blow about his own greatness. “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” Birth and death is something the wheel of the human life because this is how God has created the world. Death and decay cannot come to an end instead it gives another birth to the world.

As the same winter and spring cannot sail on the same boat because winter is the symbol of death and decay and spring is for rebirth and revival. The speaker feels himself decaying there is nothing new but the fact is whoever born as-as human being and born with flesh and blood has to decay and die one day.