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Ode to the west wind

analysis of the cantos 1 and 5 of the poem "ode to the west wind" by PB Shelley
by

Priscilla Raucci

on 19 March 2013

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Transcript of Ode to the west wind

Ode to the west Wind by P.B. Shelley Subject: the need to renew a corrupted world the renewal force is embodied by the wind because the wind:
- is free
- can't be controlled
- is in perpetual movement: it never rests or arrives at any final form
- it is intangible The wind is an "unseen presence" (vv.2), a "wild spirit" (vv. 13)

It is something mysterious, a living being that can't be described. It remains invisible and intangible.
We sense it but we can't describe it. Failure of words I canto O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave,until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear! thou: you, hectic: feverish, chariotest: chariot, winged: with wing, thine: your, o'er: over, buds: flowers, flocks: groups of animals, art: are V canto Make me thy lyre, ev'n 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. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,
Like wither'd leaves, to quicken a new birth;
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? ev'n: even, wither'ed: withered, quicken:accelerate, scatter:disperse, unextinguish'd: that can't be drown out, unawaken'e: that can't be waken up The wind brings life through death It is a Destroyer and preserver (vv.14).
There's a dualistic vision of the renewal and revolutionary force of the wind.
Destruction and creation are inseparable, because death gives birth to life.

In the text there are many words that refer to death and rebirth.

The cycle of nature and life includes both of them. According to Shelley some ideas are too larg and profound than words can express, so they are like masks for sublime concepts. Death "Pestilence-stricken multitudes" (vv. 5) , "wintry bed" (vv.6) , "corpse within its grave" (vv. 8) Winter and Autumn symbolizes death
"O Thou, / who chariotest to their dark wintry bed."(vv.6) Life Her clairon o'er the dreaming earth, and fill (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:" (vv.10-11-12) Spring symbolizes a rebirth of nature. The renewal of the seasons the poet wants to be one with wind to renew himself and renew the world.

"Bethou, Spiritfierce, My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!" (vv 61- 62)

because
- the poet is mortal
- the wind is eternal the poet wants to be one with nature HOPE and TRUST in the renew brought by winter's force.

"Drive my dead thoughts over the universe/ Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!" (vv 7-8) wind is the vehicle of poetry and the poet is a prophet

"Scatter (...) my words among mankind!"
(vv 10-11)
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