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    Analysis of Shelley’s Ode To the West Wind Ode to Essay

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    the West Wind EssaysAnalysis of Shelley’s Ode To the West WindIn “Ode to the West Wind,” Percy Bysshe Shelley tries to gaintranscendence, for he shows that his thoughts, like the “winged seeds” (7) aretrapped.

    The West Wind acts as a driving force for change and rejuvenation inthe human and natural world. Shelley views winter not just as last phase ofvegetation but as the last phase of life in the individual, the imagination,civilization and religion. Being set in Autumn, Shelley observes the changingof the weather and its effects on the internal and external environment. Byexamining this poem, the reader will see that Shelley can only reach hissublime by having the wind carry his “dead thoughts” (63) which through anapocalyptic destruction, will lead to a rejuvenation of the imagination, theindividual and the natural world. Shelley begins his poem by addressing the “Wild West Wind” (1).

    Hequickly introduces the theme of death and compares the dead leaves to “ghosts”(3). The imagery of “Pestilence-stricken multitudes” makes the reader awarethat Shelley is addressing more than a pile of leaves. His claustrophobic moodbecomes evident when he talks of the “wintry bed” (6) and “The winged seeds,where they lie cold and low/ Each like a corpse within its grave, until/ Thineazure sister of the Spring shall blow” (7-9). In the first line, Shelley usethe phrase “winged seeds” which presents images of flying and freedom. Theonly problem is that they lay “cold and low” or unnourished or not elevated. He likens this with a feeling of being trapped.

    The important word is “seeds”for it shows that even in death, new life will grow out of the “grave. ” Thephrase “winged seeds” also brings images of religions, angels, and/or soulsthat continue to create new life. Heavenly images are confirmed by his use ofthe word “azure” which besides meaning sky blue, also is defined, in Webster’sDictionary, as an “unclouded vault of heaven. ” The word “azure,” coupled withthe word “Spring,” helps show Shelley’s view of rejuvenation.

    The word”Spring” besides being a literary metaphor for rebirth also means to rise up. Inline 9, Shelley uses soft sounding phrases to communicate the blowing of thewind. This tercet acts as an introduction and a foreshadow of what is to comelater. Shelley goes on to talk of the wind as a “Destroyer and Preserver” whichbrings to mind religious overtones of different cultures such as Hinduism andNative Indian beliefs.

    The poem now sees a shift of the clouds which warns ofan upcoming storm. This helps Shelley begin to work towards a final climax. He then writes of the mourning song “Of the dying year, to which this closingnight/ Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre/ Vaulted with all they congregatedmight” (23-25). Again, the reader feels somewhat claustrophobic. The “closingnight” feels as if it is surrounding the author as he writes and the reader ashe or she reads. The “closing night” is used also to mean the final night.

    Shelley shows how he cannot have a transcendence even in an open sky for eventhe sky is a “dome. ” The “sepulchre” is a tomb made out of rock and hisimagination and the natural world will be locked and “Vaulted” tight. But infollowing lines Shelley writes how this “sepulchre” will “burst” (28). In thatsense, “Vaulted” takes on the meaning of a great leap and even a spring.

    Shelley uses the phrase “congregated might” not just to mean a collaborativeeffort, but to represent all types of religion. Shelley seems to use obtusephrasing to frighten the reader and to show the long breath of the wind. Shelley wants the reader to visualize the “dome” as having a presence like avolcano. And when the “dome” does “burst,” it will act as a “Destroyer andPreserver” and creator. The use of the words “Black rain and fire and hail. .

    . “(28) also helps the reader prepare for the apocalyptic climax which Shelleyintended. As the rising action continues, Shelley talks of the “Mediterranean”(31) and its “summer dreams” (30). In the dream, the reader finds the sealaying “Beside a pumice isle in Baiae’s bay/ And saw in sleep old palaces andtowers/ Quivering within the wave’s intenser day” (32-34). Shelley implantsthe idea of a volcano with the word “pumice. ” The “old palaces and towers” stirvivid images of ancient Rome and Greece in the readers mind.

    Shelley also usesthese images in the sea’s dream to show that the natural world and the humansocial and political world are parallel. Again, he uses soft sounding words,but this time it is used to lull the reader into the same dream-like state ofthe Mediterranean. The “pumice” shows destruction and creation for when thevolcano erupts it destroys. But it also creates more new land. The “pumice” isprobably Shelley’s best example of rebirth and rejuvenation. The word”Quivering” is not just used to describe the reflection of images in the water.

    It is also used to show a sense of fear which seems to be the most common moodand emotion in this poem. Is Shelley perhaps making a comment that at the rootof people’s faith is fear of vengeful god? Maybe, but the main focus of thispoem is not just religion, but what religion stands for which is death andrebirth. Could line 34, also be a comment on Shelley himself?In the final stanzas, Shelley has the wind transforming from the naturalworld toward human suffering. Shelley pleads with the wind: “Oh! lift me as awave, a leaf, a cloud!” (54). He seeks transcendence from the wind and says:”I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed” (55). Shelley shows Christ not as areligion, but as a hero of sacrifice and suffering, like the poet himself.

    Heagain pleads for the wind: “Drive my dead thought over the universe. . . toquicken a new birth!” (63-64). He asks the wind to “Scatter, as from anunextinguished hearth/ Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!/ Be throughmy lips to unawakened Earth” (66-68). The words “unextinguished hearth”represent the poets undying passion.

    The “hearth” is also at the centre of theearth which helps make the connection between humanity and nature. Both areconstantly trying to reinvent themselves. When one scatters “ashes” it’s atone’s death and that person becomes one with the earth. When one scatters”sparks” it is these sparks that create new fires of creation and destruction. These new “sparks” arise when the “dome” explodes and abandons old ways. Canone ever escape the roots of creation’shelley has many Blakean overtones ofcreation and destruction in the final tercet of this poem.

    Shelley’s says thathis lips are the “trumpet of prophecy” (69). And many say that Wordsworth isegotistical? Again, he uses biblical sounding words to add drama and importanceto his prophetic vision. And it definitely helps achieve Shelley’s intendedclimax when he asks with hope: “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?(70). This sentence could be rewritten substituting the word death, for the word”Winter,” and the word rebirth, could take the place of “spring. “Shelley, like all of the Romantic poets, constantly tries to achieve atranscendence to sublime. In “Ode to the West Wind,” Shelley uses the wind asa power of change that flow through history, civilization, religions and humanlife itself.

    Does the wind help Shelley achieve his transcendence? It seemsit has in some sense, but Shelley never achieves his full sublime. In poemssuch as “Stanzas written in Dejection Near Naples” Shelley uses images of”lightning” (15) and “flashing” (16) which help demonstrate that he can onlyattain a partial sublime unlike a poet like William Wordsworth. Perhaps that’swhy he tries to give rebirth to his individual imagination. One can neverrestart totally new. Even the trees that will grow from “the winged seeds” arenot totally new, but that is the point Shelley is trying to make.

    He feelshimself to be part of a continuing cycle. Since Shelley is an atheist the onlyway his soul can live on is through the “incantation” of his words. So, if histranscendence is to live on in eternity and create inspiration and change inothers like the West Wind, then he has achieved something greater than he couldhave imagined. But whether he grasped a complete transcendence for himselfwhile he was alive remains to be answered. It seems that it is only in hisdeath that the “Wild Spirit” (13) could be lifted “as a wave, a leaf, a cloud”to blow free in the “Wild West Wind” (1).

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    Analysis of Shelley’s Ode To the West Wind Ode to Essay. (2019, Jan 05). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/analysis-of-shelleys-ode-to-the-west-wind-ode-to-essay-66143/

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