Percy Bysshe Shelley's 1820 poem focuses on nature, one of the primary concerns of the Romantic poets. It was during this time in British history that England was undergoing a massive social change from an agrarian society to a modern industrial society. The Romantic poets saw this shift as a serious loss, as they attributed an almost supernatural power to the natural world. According to M.H. Abrams, "Romantic poems habitually endow the landscape with human life, passion, and expressiveness." Shelley not only gives the west wind these qualities but also sees the wind as an instrument of his own artistic vision:
"Be thou, spirit fierce, / My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one! / Drive my dead thoughts over the universe / Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth! / And, by the incantation of this verse, / Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth / Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!"