Poetic form and devices of Shelley
Q.2. Comment on the poetic form and language used by Percy Bysshe Shelley in the poem “Ode to the West Wind”.
What poetic form and devices does Shelley uses in his
poem “Ode to the West Wind”?
Ans. The dramatic alliteration in line one, ‘Wild West Wind’, announces energy and force, which flows into the rest of the poem, emphasizing how wild and destructive this wind can be. Shelley creates a sense of movement, making the wind more effective, with imagery, such as ‘Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing’, ‘who chariotest to their dark wintry bed’ and ‘Wild spirit, which art moving everywhere’.
This poem is made up of five stanzas’, each one a sonnet of four tercets, with a concluding couplet. The tercets share the same rhyme scheme of abcz bcb cdc tied throughout, although the closing couplets don’t rhyme in each stanza. All stanzas end with an invocation, giving a pleading tone to the poem, as ‘hear, oh, hear’, ‘oh, hear’, ‘oh, hear’, ‘tameless, swift and proud’ and ‘can spring be fir behind?’
In the first three stanzas, Shelley uses series of images and metaphors to underscore the forceful aspect of the wind. Images and metaphors like “like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing”, “Pestilence- stricken multitudes”, “like a corpse within its grave” indicate destructive as well as fostering aspects of the wind. In the second and third stanzas, imagery and metaphors invoke the forceful natural aspects of the wind. Shelley uses powerful language and the tone is energetic. These first three stanzas are narrated in the third person, not belonging to any specific character, hut omniscient in that the speaker is able to recount the motivations of the wild wind, to tell us where it travels and what it destroys. The language of the fourth stanza changes the tone, giving a more sombre feeling to it. There also occurs a shift in focus. So long, the focus was on the wind itself. No’ the poet uses metaphors of nature to depict himself and his desires. It is narrated in the first person, with language such as ‘If I were a dead leaf and ‘If I were a swift cloud’. The concluding stanza is a continuation of the preceding one. Shelley’s use of imagery in the fifth stanza, uses metaphors of nature, begging for a renewal of his power.
Throughout the poem, Shelley employs enjambments, enabling the theme of the destructive wind to flow from one scene to another without hesitation, a poetic tool for enforcing the image of movement Examples of this are: lines 2 and 3 with ‘from whose unseen presence the leaves dead are driven’, lines 6 and 7 ‘Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed the winged seeds’, lines 21 and 22 ‘even from the dim verge of the horizon to the zenith’s height’ and lines 50 and 51 ‘when to outstrip thy skiey speed scarce seemed a vision’.
The poem “Ode to the West Wind” is comprised of terza rima sonnet stanzas (four tercets and a couplet). It contains interlocking rhymes with energetic enjambments that evoke the force that Shelley evokes, and provides the rush of assonance and alliteration, the repetitions that resembles tile wind. The first three stanzas convey the force of the wind on the earth; in the fourth stanza, the poet seeks participation in this energy and realizes his exclusion; in the fifth h( imagines, and prays for inspiration, to make his poetry a force aligned with the prophetic, life-bearing wind, bringing spiritual and possibly political rejuvenation.