Structure of the poemODE TO THE WEST WIND Ode - a “rhymed lyric” - in the form of an address - dignified in subject, feeling and style - elaborately structured poem - musicality (repetition,alliteration; rhetorical device) - divided into five stanzas - each is sonnet, made up of 14 lines - all stanzas have same rhyme scheme : aba bcb cdc ded ee
The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) - highly imaginative - intellectually active - - strong presence in his works The Cenci (poetic drama) Ode to Liberty Adonis To a Skylark Ozymandias
Shelley’s Idealism in the west wind Poet - a revolutionary in nature,
Shelley was dissatisfied with the existing order
Rebelled against political tyranny, orthodox religion war - made the life of mankind unhappy and miserable
Shelley sought to liberate mankind from the shackles of political, religious, and intellectual slavery:
(clear in “Ode to the West Wind)
Shelley believed in the perfectibility of human nature Ode to the West Wind - shape and expression of this ideal
The poem Introduction- “Ode to the West Wind” conceives a world as seen in a forest at the edge of wild, boisterous waters the stormy West wind was collecting the vapors of the Autumnal rains The poet imagines an ideal dialogue with the Natural elements: The wind (personification)
Summary Stanza-1: activities of the WW on the land are described. The WW drives the dead leaves of various colours – yellow, black, pale and red- scatters the winged seeds far and wide buries leaves and seeds under the earth - like dead bodies in their graves, until spring Then they sprout and bear flowers to fill the valley with sweet fragrance The WW depicted as destroyer(of dead leaves) preserver(of seeds buried under ground)
Stanza-2: west wind active in the air carries loose clouds as the dead leaves clouds floating with the WW are messengers of rain and lightning (symbolism – quench,regeneration,activity,turbulence from whence new life comes forth) the approaching storm – civil awareness The stanza also describes WW as the harbinger of the end - song of the dying year, a new era preannounced stanza illustrates the abstract qualities of Shelley’s poetry.
Stanza-3: WW in action on water awakens the blue Mediterranean from a long torpor/sleep – inaction as in a dream - of ruined palaces and towers (now submerged in water), once they stood majestically on its shores. On those ruins – marine vegetation, moss and plants with flowers now growing The WW blows over the Atlantic in such a fury(rebelling spirit) rising waves give way to the mighty “Wind” so the vegetation on the bottom of the ocean trembles with fear and is uprooted
Stanza-4: After describing the effects of WW on the earth, sky and sea, the poet turns to himself and identifies his own personality(role) with that of the West Wind recalling his swift, energetic, and uncontrollable childhood (innocence to perceive more profoundly the state of matters as they truly are) the poet feels like the WW and could accompany it on its wandering over the sky
Stanza-4: 4. But adversities of life have crushed him (defeat of intent) 5. He is bleeding on the thorns of life (Christ figure of salvation/sacrifice for the new order/beliefs) 6. Poet needs inspiration from WW for support 7. Powerless and helpless, he desperately appeals to WW to uplift him (elevation to a new perceptive consciousness which he will share with the world)
Stanza-5: The poet appeals to WW to make him his acolyte - a lyre and blow/sing through him like it blows on the forest Like the forest, he sees the autumn of our era He entreats WW to become one with him and to scatter his thoughts over the world to be the harbinger of new period in human history The present miserable condition must give place to a happier and brighter new order The last line of the poem is a clear expression of Shelley's idealism - belief in the perfectibility of human nature.
Harbinger (herald) of the Golden Age of mankind
SYMBOLISM The poem has several symbolic layers of meaning- The west wind is symbolic of destruction (of the old order) and preservation (of new one).Thus a symbol of change/renewal. dead leaves and seeds – all material things are subject to change – as is the hope for a new world order The west wind also embodies the poet himself. West wind a symbol of the powerful influence and forces that will announce the new order of mankind.
Similes and Metaphors STANZA - I Metaphors: Breath of autumn’s being the winged seeds destroyer and preserver Similes: Like ghost from enchanter each like corpse STANZA - II Metaphors: Angels of rains and lightning some fierce Maenad dome of a vast sepulture Similes: clouds like earth’s decaying leaves like the bright hair uplifted
STANZA - III Metaphors: the coil of his crystalline streams Atlantic level powers Similes: Like ghost from enchanter each like corpse STANZA - IV Metaphors: thorns of life The comrade of thy wandering STANZA - V Metaphors: the trumpet of prophecy winter spring Similes: as from an unextinguished hearth ashes and sparks.