Explanation “Ode to the West Wind”
(1) Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear!
Ans. The quoted lines occur in the celebrated poem “Ode to the West Wind” by the great Romantic poet P. B. Shelley. Here the poet speaks about the dual aspect of West Wind as destroyer and a preserver. The wind is a wild spirit, the power of destruction, blowing everywhere. The West Wind is called the destroyer as well as the preserver, because while it destroys the leaves, it preserves seeds to germinate later.
The West Wind destroys only the useless decayed things, dry, dead leaves, that are not green symbol of life but have sickly colours, “paIe”, “black”, “yellow”, “hectic red”. The wind carries away the dead leaves and piles them on the ground where they will mould and become fertile soil for the new plants in spring. It carries the light seeds away fro the parent-plants to scatter them everywhere, so that in Spring they would start a life of their own. The seeds lie buried safely in the ground all through Winter until the warm Spring breeze, Azure sister of West Wind, will blow, thawing the hard soil so that the seeds could come out! sprout through the softened earth and Spring flowers quickly bloom every where to adorn the world with new and dazzling colour. Thus the West Wind is at the same time destroyer and preserver.
(2) there are spread
On the blue surface of thine aery surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head
Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge Of the horizon to the zenith’s height,
The locks of the approaching storm.
Ans (2) The quoted lines occur in the celebrated poem “Ode to the West Wind” by the great Romantic poet P. B. Shelley. The poet here describes the effect of the wind on the sky. The quoted lines give a graphic description of how the West Wind brings about violent storm in the sky.
The wind breaks the clouds up “like earth’s decaying leaves” that are shaken “from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean”. The forceful wind breaks apart the clouds and scatters them just like leaves from trees. Shelley compares rain and lightning to angels, and says the wind spreads them both through the sky “like the bright hair uplifted from the head”. So, the rain and lighting are spread across the sky like someone’s hair that is lifted up and splayed in the wind. He then compares the wind to a crazy, intense, wild-woman (Maenad) to indicate a coming storm. The wind spreads the clouds in a way that the entire sky from the dim horizon up to the highest zenith becomes overcast with them.
(3) ……………Thou Dirge Of the dying year, to which this closing night Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre, Vaulted with all thy congregated might
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst:
Ans. (3) The quoted lines occur in the celebrated poem “Ode to the West Wind” by the great Romantic poet P. B. Shelley. The poet here describes the fury of the storm caused by the West Wind in the sky.
In the sky, the West Wind brings about a violent storm. As the wind blows, it drives the loose masses of clouds across the sky. The sky gets overcast with black clouds. The clouds cover the sky from the verge of the horizon up to the highest point. As the wind blows violently bringing commotion in the sky, the poet is reminded of the death of the year. In Autumn, nature lies on deathbed and its actual death comes in Winter. As the poet listens to the tumult of the wind, it appears to him that the wind is singing the funeral song of the year. And the dark night sky, overcast with masses of black cloud, is likened to the vault of a vast grave in which the dead body of the year will be buried. Soon these black clouds will burst into thunder, rain and lightning. Thus the whole earth will experience the fury of the mighty West Wind.
(4) Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud! I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.
Ans.(4) The quoted lines occur in the celebrated poem “Ode to the West Wind” by the great Romantic poet P. B. Shelley. These lines reveal Shelley’s sensitive nature, his feeling of sheer helplessness, his bitter sense of his own weakness and his own lack of strength and freedom in the face of the trials and tribulations of life.
Shelley was a rebel and a revolutionary. He had a restless temperament which was ever at war with something. In the West Wind Shelley finds a kindred spirit looking at it, he is remained of his youth when he too was free and uncontrollable At that time he did not think it an impossibility to vie with the West Wind in its speed. But the worries, ordeals, persecutions, tribulations and suffering, all these miseries of life have compelled him to become tame and weak. He had lost his old vigour and force; and in this bitterness, he cries out to the West Wind to render him some help as he yearns for freed om and happiness. He appeals to the wind to lift him as it lifts a cloud, a wave or a leaf. He confesses his weakness that now he falls upon the thorns of life, miseries and misfortunes of life; and they prick him to bleeding. The poet here envies the free and swift movement of the wind and most of all, its untamed, powerful and uncontrollable, wild force. With the passage of time, as his bright and rosy days are over, he finds himself chained and restricted in every possible way.
(5) Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness.
Ans (5) The quoted lines occur in the celebrated poem “Ode to the West Wind” by the great Romantic poet P. B. Shelley. Here the poet implores the West Wind to make him its instrument of music. He urges the wind to bring out the music latent in his heart.
The wild force of the West Wind fascinates Shelley. He is fallen on the ‘thorns of life’ and feels that his creative energy has been lost. He is badly in need of some energy that can raise and inspire him. Hence, he implores the West Wind to make him its instrument of music as it has made the forest through which it passes by making a rustling sound. It does not matter if his youthful vigour is gone. The forest is also without the leaves in the Autumn. So, let the West Wind blow through his heart and bring out the music that is latent there. But the poet is aware of the fact that the wild force of the wind will produce sad string like the music of the leafless forest in Autumn. But the sad music will also have its sweetness. In other words, the poet will probably sing sad songs, but they will be sweet and melodious.
(6) Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
Ans (6) The quoted lines occur in the celebrated poem “Ode to the West Wind” by the great Romantic poet P. B. Shelley. Here the poet implores the West Wind to convey to him its own fierce and untamable energy, so that he can sing his songs freely and spontaneously.
In “Ode to the West Wind” Shelley subjectively treats the wind and gives it a mythical stature. For him, the West Wind is not only a natural phenomenon affecting changes in the natural world. It is Shelley’s symbol for regeneration, a vehicle of his revolutionary romanticism. In the poem, he equates his poetry with the West Wind. As the wind is a transforming power in nature, so can his poetry be a transforming power intellectually and poetically. Hence, lie urges the wind to be completely identified with him. Then it will do with his ideas what it does with the death leaves. He implores the wind to scatter his dead thoughts over the Universe and bring about welcoming change upon the earth. As the leaves and seeds driven by the West Wind burst into life in the Spring season, so let his thoughts bring a rebirth of the world and humanity. Shelley has a firm faith in his mission of bringing about the regeneration of mankind.
(7) And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind! Be through my lips to unawakened earth
The trumpet of a prophecy!
Ans. (7) The quoted lines occur in the celebrated poem “Ode to the West Wind” by the great Romantic poet P. B. Shelley. The poet here urges the forceful West Wind to act as the trumpet of his prophecy to regenerate humanity.
In Shelley’s Opinion the earth is “Unawakened” because mankind is still ignorant and does not realize that it can built a better world of peace and happiness. The poet asks the wind to speak through his mouth to the human society which has so long defied him and has wallowed in the mire of degradation. He implores the West Wind to scatter his words to the earth which is still buried beneath old conventions, customs and ideas. Just as sparks and ashes from a burning hearth are carried away by the wind, so his words too would be conveyed to the world. For Shelley, the West Wind is not only a natural phenomenon affecting changes in the natural world. It is his symbol for regeneration, a vehicle of his revolutionary romanticism. In the poem, he equates his poetry with the West Wind. As the wind is a transforming power in nature, so can his poetry be a transforming power intellectually and poetically.
(8)…………………………….. O , Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
Ans(8) The quoted lines occur in the celebrated poem “Ode to the West Wind” by the great Romantic poet P. B. Shelley. This is the prophetic utterance of the poet about regeneration. Shelley’s optimism about a brighter future is at the peak here.
Shelley is deeply shocked to see mankind in a miserable condition. But he is hopeful of better days. Presently the earth is experiencing winter season which is symbol of hardship and difficulties. But after winter comes spring; the earth becomes adorned with numerous flowers of different colours and the whole earth is pervaded by the sweet fragrance of the flowers. The Spring stands for the joy and re-birth in Nature. Shelley, a pure optimist, cherishes the desire that though the humanity now undergoes a period of darkness, winter period, Spring will soon set in. In the natural cycle of season, the Winter is always followed by the Spring. Hence, Shelley is overtly hopeful. Thus here comes the mighty prophecy of hope and faith in the triumph of love and the Spirit over tyranny and forces of darkness. This prophecy is the message to man of the rebirth of soul. Beyond the storm, beyond the Winter, beyond the decay and barrenness of a wintry age, there glimmers the Spring of a millennium. And Shelley visualizes the outburst of a Spring of humanity, expressed so optimistically in the last line of the poem: “If winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”