Short Questions on Ode to the West Wind
*Please justify the title of the poem “Ode to the West Wind”.
Ans. Shelley’s celebrated poem “Ode to the West Wind” is a wonderful piece of romantic poetry. The title of the poem is fully justified because the poem is an impassioned address to the autumnal west wind. The whole poem is mainly about the west wind and its forces. The first three stanzas describe and reflect upon the operation of the west wind on the land, in the sky, and on the seas. Personal and subjective elements enter into the fourth stanza as the poet desires to be lifted out of his low, fallen state by the wind. In the fifth and final stanza, the note of romantic subjectivism takes on a revolutionary fervour. The poet appeals to the mighty wind to make him ‘thy lyre’ and cause a revolution in the world by revitalizing his spark- like thoughts and spreading them throughout the world. Thus, in the poem, Shelley subjectively treats the West Wind and makes a myth of as well as allegorizes it as a potent symbol of revolutionary change. It is presented both as a destroyer and a preserver, facilitating universal change after autumnal decay and wintry hibernation. Ostensibly as well as in its essence, the poem is about the West Wind. Hence, the title is quite justified.
*What commoiions/ effects/influences does the West
Wind bring on the earth and in the Meditcrrane?
ANS. In the celebrated poem ‘Ode to the West Wind”, Shelley, by using a series of vivid images, gives graphic descriptions of the effects of the West Wind on the earth, in the key and over the ocean. Labeling the West Wind as both a ‘destroyer’ and a ‘preserver’ Shelley says about the effects of the wind on the earth. It drives away dry leaves of trees like “ghosts from an enchanter fleeing”. It also carries the winged seeds and deposits them in the “dark wintry bed”, where they remain buried throughout the winter. The same wind will also make them germinate in the spring. In the third stanza, Shelley presents the operation of the autumnal wind on the seas. The Wind arouses the Mediterranean from its slumber in which the sea dreams about the old palaces and towers submerged in its own blue deep. The Wild Wind then makes a lashing progress through the waters of the Atlantic, dividing the mighty Atlantic’s ‘level powers’ into two halves, Its impact reaching miles below to turn the submarine nature grey in fear. Thus, the mighty West Wind brings great changes both on the earth and over the seas.
* How does Shelley present the West Wind in the poem “Ode to the West Wind”?
Ans. Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind” is a wonderful romantic poem. In the poem, the poet subjectively treats the wind and gives it a mythical stature. He underlines the forceful aspects of the autumnal wind and calls it both a ‘preserver’ and a ‘destroyer’. The poet describes the mighty powers of the West Wind both as a destroyer and preserver. As a destroyer the wind drives away the pale dry leaves of trees and preserves the seeds in the moist earth for germination in the coming spring-time. As the West Wind is a very powerful force, it causes great commotions on the earth, in the sky and over the ocean. Throughout the poem, the terrifying destructive powers of the wind as well as its gentle fostering influence have been underlined. More importantly, Shelley treats the West Wind allegoric ally. It is a symbol of unassailable power which can bring in revolutionary changes in the world and save mankind from misery and darkness. This is why in the concluding stanza he urges to wind to make him its ‘lyre’ in order to spread his messages of hope and regeneration throughout the world. The poet ends in a high optimistic note that the present desolate condition will pass away and good days
are ahead. –
*Write a short note on “Personal Elements in “Ode to the
Ans. Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind” is a celebrated romantic poem. Personal elements penetrate in the poem when in the fourth stanza Shelley makes a fervent appeal to the forceful wind to liberate him from the slough of depression which has temporarily overwhelmed him. He addresses the Wind in the first person seeking its sympathy and support in order to redeem himself. He categorically mentions that he, like the West Wind, once was “uncontrollable” and “tameless, and swift, and proud”. He now bleeds as he falls on the “thorns of life” and has been chained and bowed down by the “heavy weight of hours”. In other words, he is depressed and weighed down by the cares and anxieties of life. He passionately appeals to the wind to lift him up just like the way it lifts up the leaves on the earth and the clouds on the sky and the waves on the sea. Shelley here treats the wind subjectively. He makes the myth of the autumnal West Wind as a great force which possesses redeeming power. He strongly feels that the West Wind can only regenerate him and give sparks to his creative energy.
* In “Ode to the West Wind”, why does Shelley call the West Wind “destroyer” and “preserver”?
Ans. Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind” is a wonderful romantic poem. In the poem, the poet subjectively treats the wind and gives it a mythical stature. He underlines the forceful aspects of the autumnal wind and calls it both a ‘preserver’ and a ‘destroyer’. The poet describes the mighty powers of the West Wind both as a destroyer and preserver. Shelley describes the West Wind as something that can be seen only through its force and power, like driving leaves before the wind or blowing seeds to a cold grave. Shelley then turns the topic of the first stanza and speaks of the West Wind’s sister, the Spring wind, that will blow and summon to life the sleeping seeds that will raise “sweet buds” to the air. It is in this context that Shelley calls the West Wind a Wild Spirit that is both a “Destroyer” and a “Preserver”: The West Wind destroys the peaceful landscape of autumn by driving dead, pestilence-stricken leaves, but it is a preserver because it buries, or plants, the seeds of next year’s life to be awakened by the Spring wind that blow.
* Write short note on: Symbolism in the poem “Ode to the West Wind”
Ans. The autumnal West Wind itself is the central piece of symbolism in the poem. A natural phenomenon has assumed the mythical dimension of a great transformational agency, a destroyer and a preserver, operating on earth, in the sky, and on the seas. Shelley’s revolutionary zeal and ethereal imagination symbolize the wind into an uncontrollable spirit governing the whole of the universe. The poet seeks the support of the wind to resurrect himself so that all the sparks of his thought might be fanned into new flames of fire to usher in a new springtime at the end of the winter decay and desolation.
For Shelley, the West Wind is more than a wind. It 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. It is an uncontrollable spirit who can rescue and elevate the poet, fallen among ‘the thorns of life’, to become the harbinger of the great agency of change. ‘Make me thy lyre’, Shelley implores the wind, and urges it to bring forth a new spring of life in the dead winter of man’s world.
* Shelley’s vision of poetry and life in “Ode to the West Wind”
Ans. 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 phenorienon 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.
The wind ushers great changes in the natural world. It brings in changes on the earth, in the sky and on the seas. A natural phenomen on has assumed the mythical dimension of a great transformational agency, a destroyer and a preserver, operating on earth, in the sky, and on the seas. Shelley pleads with the West Wind to let him do the same, figuratively, with his poetry:
Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
Drive my dead thought over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
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…”
Shelley’s vision is that his poetry will transform art, poetry, life, as the West Wind transforms nature.
*Shelley’s myth-making in “Ode to the West Wind”
Ans. Shelley holds a unique place in English literature by virtue of his power of making myths out of the objects and forces of Nature. To most of us, the forces of nature have little meaning. But for Shelley these forces had as much reality as human being have for most of us. 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. Shelley personifies the West Wind and gives it an independent life. He also personifies the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, giving each a separate existence. These forces of nature are so vitally imagined that they become present. This giving of individual life to different forces of nature is Shelley’s myth-making quality. He gives conscious life to the West Wind, Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean, but he does not attribute any other human qualities to them. He does not look upon nature or natural phenomenon as disguised beings. To Shelley, the West Wind is still a wind, and the cloud a cloud, however intense a reality they might be for him.