Analysis of Percy Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”

Length: 4 Pages 1088 Words

In 'Ode to the West Wind,' Percy Bysshe Shelley tries to show his desire for transcendence, by explaining that his thoughts and ideas, like the 'winged seeds' are trapped. The West Wind acts as a force for change and forward movement in the human and natural world. Shelley sees winter not just as the last season of vegetation but as the last phase of life. Shelley observes the changing of the weather from autumn to winter and its effects on the environment. Shelley is trying to show that a man’s ideas can spread and live on beyond his lifetime by having the wind carry his 'dead thoughts' which through destruction, will lead to a rebirth in the imagination, and in the natural world. Shelley begins his poem by addressing the 'Wild West Wind'. He then introduces the theme of death and compares the dead leaves to 'ghosts'. The imagery of 'Pestilence-stricken multitudes' makes the reader aware that Shelley is addressing more than a pile of leaves. His claustrophobic mood is shown when he talks about the 'wintry bed' and 'The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low/ Each like a corpse within its grave, until/ Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow'. In the first line, Shelley used the phrase 'winged seeds' which presents Continue...


He compares this with a feeling of being trapped. ' also helps the reader prepare for the climax which Shelley intended. In line 9, Shelley uses soft sounding phrases to communicate the blowing of the wind. Shelley also uses these images in the sea's dream to show that the natural world and the human social and political world are parallel. The problem is that they lay 'cold and low' or uncared for. Since Shelley is an atheist the only way his soul can live on is through the 'incantation' of his words. The 'hearth' is also at the center of the earth which helps make the connection between humanity and nature. It is also used to show a sense of fear which seems to be the most common mood and emotion in this poem. In the final stanzas, Shelley changes the wind from the natural world toward human suffering. It seems that it is only in his death that the 'Wild Spirit' could be lifted 'as a wave, a leaf, a cloud' to blow free in the 'Wild West Wind'. But in following lines Shelley writes how this 'sepulchre' will 'burst'. In that sense, 'Vaulted' means a great leap. Again, he uses soft sounding words to calm the reader into the same dream-like state of the Mediterranean.