Ode to the West Wind Questions and Answers
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ode to the West Wind book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Explain the line "The trumpet of prophecy" from "Ode to the West Wind."

"The trumpet of prophecy" in the second to last line of "Ode to the West Wind" refers to Shelley's own writing. The line means he believes his writing foretells the future. In this ode, he wishes his prophetic words could be scattered across the earth to fire people up, just as a trumpet alerts people to the coming of a king.

Expert Answers info

Julianne Hansen, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Clemson University


calendarEducator since 2019

write1,926 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

The trumpet has a long history of being associated with military strength, and often it has been used as a symbol of power and victory. The speaker of this poem appeals to the west wind to share with him its power. He notes all the wind has accomplished, driving dead leaves like ghosts, blowing winged seeds to their "dark wintry bed," and stirring the atmosphere to burst forth in fire and hail. The speaker realizes that the wind can't affect him physically as it does with most of nature, but he hopes that perhaps he can harness its powers to spread his ideas. He begs the wind to drive his "dead thoughts over the universe" to instigate change.

Thus, the final two lines, including the metaphor of being a "trumpet of prophecy," depend on the stanza before. The speaker asks the wind to use his own lips as a "trumpet of prophecy" as a spark to awaken the earth. The speaker wants to be used in a powerful way to instigate changes as powerful as the wind's abilities to influence nature. The speaker...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 959 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,019 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Thanh Munoz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write1,682 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts





check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write16,848 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial