Describe the third stanza of the poem "Ode to the West Wind".Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As a Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote about many natural phenomena.  His "Ode to the West Wind" was inspired by an autumn storm that caused the poet to consider the linkage between the outer world of nature and the inner world of the human intellect.

In each stanza, the poet speaks to the West Wind, personifying it; he perceives the wind as having driven the "Pestilence-stricken multitudes" of leaves to their "wintry bed" where they will die.  The seeds of these leaves, "The winged seeds," will lie as corpses do in a grave.  However, the wind, the "harbinger of the dying year" signifies that the year comes to an end.

In stanza III, the poet describes the impact of the wind upon the Mediterranean coast line as well as the Atlantic ocean.  In apostrophe, the poet, in awe, addresses this puissant wind that moves the water and undersea vegetation in a similar way to its movement of the landscape:

...Thou

For whose path the Atlantic's level powers

Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below

The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear

The sapless foliage of the ocean....

It is this puissance of the natural force of the wind, then, that Shelley calls upon to, like the dead leaves, drive his "dead thoughts over the universe" in order to "quicken a new birth" of fresh thoughts, renewing his intellect as nature is renewed.

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