“Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

“Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, is a poem that depicts a broken man who is calling for the help of the wind to spread his words across the world. The wind is used to represent both a “destroyer and

preserver”, but later uses the wind to represent his own work. Shelley’s use of first person point of view along with iambic pentameter form allows him to show the direct relationship with nature and his works.

Shelley puts this poem in the first person and he becomes the character in the poem. It is set up like a monologue. Shelley is trying to talk to the wind that will not hear him. He continues to talk to the wind until he finally uses the wind to talk about himself. The wind in the fifth part is no longer an outside force that he is trying to speak to but the wind becomes a force that is within him. The poem starts with the feel of a love poem as he praises the wind in attempt to flatter it. He tries to flatter the wind hoping that it will respond or hear his thoughts. Shelley eventually stops trying to speak to the wind but reflects on how the wind is within him. Shelley’s use of the first person allows us to feel more connected with him and his thoughts. It allows us to feel his desire to speak with the wind that will never hear him. The point of view shows that he himself is in nature and his work should be considered a part of nature as well.

Metaphor is used throughout the poem. Shelley uses the wind to represent a force in the world that will be able to spread his thoughts to the world. Scatter his thoughts as the wind scatters leaves, clouds, and waves. The wind then becomes a metaphor for his work as a whole. That his work will kill off all the old thoughts and be a “trumpet of a prophecy” for all of mankind. The leaves come to represent thoughts. He wants his thoughts to be lifted up like leaves and scattered. Leaves also refer to the thoughts that came before his, the dead thoughts. He then uses the “spring” in the last line to represent the reawakening of the earth. He believes that if his work is able to destroy the old and dead thoughts that it will be able to spark a new thought, just as the spring brings in new life. These metaphors allow the reader to relate nature to his thoughts. Shelley only uses images of nature to represent how he feels his work is a part of nature.

The structure of the poem also shows its relation to nature. The poem is structured in Iambic pentameter which is considered to be a very natural rhythm for a poem. Shelley uses terza rima as his rhyme scheme. This rhyme scheme is repeated throughout the five stanzas in the poem. The rhyme is ABA BCB CDC DED EE. This rhyme scheme is a very classic rhyme scheme. The poem is also broken up into 5 stanzas and within those five stanzas each is broken into 5 parts. This poem then creates a classic feel along with a very natural rhythm that conveys the idea that Shelley and his art is at one with nature.

Shelley in “Ode to the West Wind” is able to convey his thoughts of himself through the form that he uses. Shelley’s use of unique metaphors, Iambic Pentameter, and the first person point of view all allow us to feel that he is one with nature. Shelley thought of himself as the person who would be able to transform thought of the 19th century. Shelley felt that he would be able to get rid of all the old 18th century thoughts and to bring about an era of new thought that woud reflect his own.

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