In "Ode to the West Wind", the poet wishes to be liberated of life's burdens. How does he do so?

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akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There could be much made to answer this question. I think that a possible avenue could be to explore how Shelley wishes to conceive of his own immortality as a poet.  He places a great deal of emphasis in the hope that his words will be remembered as something as permanent as nature and as the expression of the natural self.  I believe that he is able to feel liberated of the burden of consciousness in placing so much importance in this vision of permanence that he sees as transcendent.  If we examine the text, I think an argument can be made that he believes that if he achieves a certain standard in his own writing and if his words are remembered, this can allow him the chance to be free of the burden of living, entering a realm where only poets dare to tread.

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

In stanza 4 of the poem, Shelley regrets that while the dead leaves on earth, the black clouds in the sky, and the panting waves of the Atlantic receive the ennobling thrust of the mighty wind, he still lies low heavily burdened with the load of life unable to get in touch with the wind.

The poet recalls how strong and free he was in his boyhood when he could run with the wind to outspeed it in the sky.He was then only less mighty than the 'uncontrollable' wind. Now the huge burden of existence has tied him to the ground, like Prometheus in chains in Greek mythology.

'I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!'--thus the poet exclaims in anguish bordering on self-pity. It is the revitalizing thrust of the West Wind that alone can liberate the poet from the bondage.

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