How is optimisim introduced in the first and fourth stanza of "Ode to the West Wind''?

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Optimism is introduced in the first and fourth section of this famous poem through reference to the symbol of a seed and then also the way that the power of the wind can be harnessed to overcome the difficulties of life. In the first stanza, the speaker references the work of the West Wind in blowing seeds across the land:

The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,

Each like a corpse within its grave, until

Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow...

Even though these seeds lie "cold and low" and are described as being "like a corpse within its grave," which strongly associates them with death, the optimism in this poem is presented through what happens to these seeds in Spring when these seeds are awakened and new life spring forth from what apparently was dead.

Optimism can also be seen in the fourth section of this poem where the speaker finds hope in the power of the West Wind to overcome life's difficulties and trials:

If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;

If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;

A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

The impulse of thy strength...

The speaker is inspired by the strength and the power of the West Wind, and, recognising his "sore need," implores the West Wind to give him some of its strength and majesty in order to overcome the "thorns of life," or life's difficulties upon which he pricks himself and bleeds. Optimism is therefore found in the hope offered by the West Wind, and the promise that it contains that there is something incomparably above and beyond that allows humans to escape their earthly problems.

Read the study guide:
Ode to the West Wind

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question