In the poem, the poet has personified the west wind. Whom do you think the poet has personified the west wind as?

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lindseywarren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Ode to the West Wind," Shelley does indeed use personification to describe the west wind; however, what Shelley personifies the wind as shifts throughout the poem.  At the start of the poem, Shelley definitely personifies the west wind as a Godlike figure, who embodies both anger and mercy, death and life.  The wind is like an invisible force that causes and controls everything within the poem.  In addition, Shelley calls the wind "Destroyer and Preserver," an epithet that has religious resonance.  The wind also seems to be personified as Death, relating to the religious motif, in that it turns the leaves into "ghosts" that are "pestilence-stricken."  Diction like "decaying" and "sepulchre" also allude to the wind as the spirit of death.  However, even in the face of the decay that the west wind brings, the poet asks the wind to "lift" him, again returning to the positive aspects of the wind as a Godlike figure.

In the final stanza, however, Shelley describes the west wind as having a "lyre," indicating that he is now personifying the wind as a poet.  A popular trope in Romantic poetry is the aeolean harp, which the wind "plays" and which becomes a symbol for the poet himself.  Furthering this notion in the poem, Shelley asks, "Be thou, Spirit fierce, / My spirit," indicating that he feels a connection to the wind as they are both poets.

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Ode to the West Wind

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