Ode to the West Wind

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Q. Ode to The West Wind is a plea for regeneration and renewal. Elaborate.

In 'The Defense of Poetry', Shelley talks of his belief in granting poetry a revolutionary capacity. The West Wind in 'Ode to the West Wind' encompasses all the power and revolutionary capacity he hopes poetry to have. The restrictions on free speech encountered by Shelley urged him to write a poem which articulated him angst and frustration towards a system which did not grant him the space to openly express himself or other writers of his time. The sense of powerlessness felt by Shelley translated into the personification of the wind into a revolutionary force.

The 'Ode to the West Wind' by Shelley is a poem addressed to the west wind, personifying it as both a 'Destroyer' and 'Preserver'. It is seen as a great power of nature that destroys in order to create, that kills the unhealthy and the decaying to make way for the new and the fresh. The idea of regeneration plays a central role in the poem, as Shelley connects images of the wind with myths and symbols of rebirth and rejuvenation. Shelley opens the poem by comparing the dead leaves of autumn which are blown away by the west wind to the souls of the dead. By embodying the epic similes found in Homer, Virgil, Dante and Milton, Shelley is comparing the dying leaves which are being brushed away in order to allow for rejuvenation to souls in their 'dark wintry beds'. By using the phrase 'thine azure sister of spring' to refer to the west wind, Shelley is feminizing the wind hence further creating the imagery of fertility rebirth which is traditionally associated with the female gender. It is interesting to note that Shelley goes against the traditional belief of both Greek and Latin mythology that the spring west wind is masculine in nature. Shelley reworks this image in order to better symbolize the wind in the light of a renewing force rather than a destructive one. The power of the wind to carry seeds far in order to fertilize...
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