Could I have an explanation of section 2 of the poem "Ode to the West Wind" stanza by stanza?

lit24 | Student

Shelley wrote the "Ode to the West Wind" during his stay in Italy. The poem describes a storm arising in the autumn season in the Mediterranean Sea and being driven towards the land by 'the west wind.'  In the second section, Shelley vividly describes the meterological process of the gathering storm in the distant horizon of the Mediterranean Sea.

In the first stanza Shelley compares the storm clouds which are being formed at the horizon ("tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean") and being driven inland by the west wind to decaying leaves shed by the trees during autumn.

In the next two stanzas, the storm clouds are compared to  "angels" which carry the rain inland. They announce their arrival by fiery flashes of dazzling lightning which reach up into the sky from the ocean at the horizon. The flashes of lightning are compared to the bright hair of the maenad (the maenad is a frenzied  spirit which attends on the Greek God Dionysus).

The mournful sound of the autumnal west wind compels Shelley to regard it as the funeral song of the dying year.The section concludes with comparing this night in  which this funeral song will be heard to a huge funeral vaut which contains within it the compressed might and awesome power of the storm which is about to break out in all its fury.

abhishekh | Student
In the second section, here is a breakdown of each stanza: 1. Here he declares that the wind breaks the clouds up "like earth's decaying leaves" that are shaken from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean"; in other words, the wind can break apart the clouds so that the scatter about just like leaves from trees in the wind do. The leaves are the clouds, the trees heaven and the ocean. 2. He 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 (angels) are spread across the sky like someone's hair that is lifted up and splayed in the wind. 3-5. He compares the wind to a crazy, intense, wild-woman (Maenad) coming to indicate a coming storm. He calls it an omen of a funeral (dirge) for the dying year, and that the wind will be the roof of a tomb yielding "black rain, and fire, and hail". These stanzas describe the wind storming angrily, and a figure bringing death. Last Section: 1-2. He wants the wind to make him its voice; he wants to be able to be the wind, to know it and feel what it is. 3-4. He wants the wind to drive out all of his dead thoughts, and spread his words around the world. 5. He wants the wind's message to be heard through his lips, and calls it a prophecy hailing the coming of spring.
Read the study guide:
Ode to the West Wind

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