Please explain the following lines from "Ode to the West Wind."Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is: What if my leaves are falling like its own? The tumult of thy mighty harmonies Will take from...

Please explain the following lines from "Ode to the West Wind."

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:

What if my leaves are falling like its own?

The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep autumnal tone, 60

Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,

My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,

Like wither'd leaves, to quicken a new birth!

Asked on by jaanaa

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

These famous lines actually come from the final stanza of this tremendous poem, and represent the final desire and wish of the speaker to be used by the West Wind, which throughout the poem is seen as being a powerful symbol of change and revolution. The lines you have quoted begin with an example of apostrophe as the speaker addresses the West Wind openly, asking and begging to become the wind's instrument, to have his words used to express the power of change and revolution that is at the heart of the West Wind's being, as the poet sees it. He wishes to identify so closely with the essence of the West Wind, as he says "Be thou me, impetuous one!" Shelley wishes that his "dead thoughts" like the withered leaves and seeds may be driven through the universe through the power of the West Wind so that they can "quicken a new birth" and fan the flames of change. Note the paradox inherent in the words of a poet, which are simultaneously dead and inert, but also alive and inspiring. Shelley wants his words to inspire inert readers and bring them to life. He thus asks in these lines the wind to let him be the voice of prophecy and expressive power.

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