Discuss Shelley's idea of spiritual and imaginative force with reference to Ode to the West Wind.

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In his "Ode to the West Wind," Shelley describes nature as a spiritual force that spreads itself across the planet. He addresses nature as a "wild spirit," depicting it as a moving force that brings both destruction and preservation.

In section two, Shelley refers to the lightning and the rain as "angels" or messengers of the wind, spreading its message. Shelley longs to be a part of the powerful natural spirit that infuses and blows itself around the earth. In section four, he imagines the spirit of the wind blowing him around the world as it does dead leaves. He wishes he could be a "comrade" of the wind's travels: in other words, he yearns to be blown all over the earth.

Finally, in section five, Shelley expresses his longing that the leaves of his verse could be spread by the wind and scattered all over just as the fallen leaves from the trees are blown everywhere by the wind's power.

Shelley was a radical for his time period, and the poem conveys his desire that his ideas might reach more people and gain wider acceptance. Like most Romantic poets, he finds spiritual power and purity in the natural world. He would like to harness this power to spread his message, an imaginative one that he believes will breathe new life into individuals and society. Shelley believed poets were "the unacknowledged legislators of the world," a phrase he used in his essay "A Defence of Poetry," and his passion—even anguish—to communicate to the world comes through in his "Ode to the West Wind."

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