The effects of the West Wind on the earth
Describe, after Shelley, the effects of the West Wind on the earth, in the sky and over the ocean.
Describe the various activities of the West Wind on land, in the sky and on the sea.
Ans. “Ode to the West Wind” is one of the most famous poems by Shelley and it was published in the same book, which consists of his famous drama, Prometheus Unbound, and many magnificent lyric poems. He wrote this poem in the autumn of 1819 in Florence. The poem is considered as one of the noblest lyrics in English. It bears testimony to the poetic genius that Shelley was.
In “Ode to the West Wind” 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’. 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. 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.
In the second stanza of “Ode to the West Wind”, Shelley describes the commotion that the mighty West Wind brings 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. These clouds bring thunder, rain and lightning — “black rain, and fire, and hail”. As the sky becomes overcast with black clouds, the whole nature appears as a big dome of a grave in which the ‘dying year’ will be buried. Thus, the West Wind bring great commotions in the sky resulting in thunder, rain and lightning.
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 01(1 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. The wind causes a violent commotion in the seaweeds and the flowers that bloom on the weeds. The poet imagines that these weeds tremble with fear of the West Wind turn pale and shed their leaves and flowers. Thus, the mighty West Wind brings great changes on the earth, in the sky and over the seas.