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I need an explication. What is poet saying in these lines...last stanza of "Ode to the...

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jaanaa | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 24, 2012 at 9:58 AM via web

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I need an explication. What is poet saying in these lines...last stanza of "Ode to the West Wind"?

Make me thy lyre, even 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,   60 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,   65     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?   70  

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 24, 2012 at 12:29 PM (Answer #1)

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In these last lines of "Ode to the West Wind," Shelley expresses his hope that his poetry will affect social and/or personal change in the future.

The lyre is a reference to the Eolian lyre which plays rising and falling chords when affected by the wind. If he, the poet, is the lyre, then the West Wind will play/carry his poetry to new places and times.

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe

Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!

Even if his poetry is forgotten, during his own lifetime or after his death, Shelley hopes that this forgotten phase (compared with Winter) will be followed by a "Spring" during which his poetry will again be appreciated.

The wind is a natural phenomenon to be compared with creativity, untamed forces, and the movement of time/history. The poet sees the wind as the vehicle of time and ideas. He hopes not just to be remembered as a great poet, but also to affect social change in order to improve humankind:

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!

The trumpet of a prophecy!

One of the messages the poet hopes to convey, in terms of the themes in this poem, is the idea of rebirth (Spring). Such a notion ties in with the idea of awakening humankind and improving the human condition with a kind of "new birth" (64).

Sources:

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