According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, personification is "a figure of speech in which human characteristics are attributed to an abstract quality, animal, or inanimate object." In the famous poem "Ode to the West Wind," Percy Bysshe Shelley personifies the west wind as a wild spirit with human-like qualities that functions as both a "destroyer and preserver."
Shelley first describes this wild spirit as an "enchanter" that drives multicolored autumn leaves before it. The autumn leaves have died and fallen off the trees, and so the poet likens them to "pestilence-stricken multitudes." A pestilence is a plague or serious illness that kills people, so this image is obviously of the wind as destroyer. In contrast, the poet then says that the wind at the same time also hides the "winged seeds" in their "dark wintry bed" until spring comes and the seeds sprout. This image shows the wind as preserver.
The poet describes how the wind sweeps the clouds along, bringing rain and lightning, and also how...
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