What do the leaves most likely symbolize in "Ode to the West Wind"?

In "Ode to the West Wind," the leaves most likely symbolize pages of writing and poetry that the speaker had previously produced and now wishes to be rid of.

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Leaves, particularly dead leaves, are mentioned multiple times throughout the five cantos of "Ode to the West Wind." These leaves are imbued with heavy symbolism. Throughout the poem, the speaker asks the West Wind to provide him the inspiration and energy to produce new works and ideas.

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Leaves, particularly dead leaves, are mentioned multiple times throughout the five cantos of "Ode to the West Wind." These leaves are imbued with heavy symbolism. Throughout the poem, the speaker asks the West Wind to provide him the inspiration and energy to produce new works and ideas.

In a literal sense, the dead leaves are the vestiges of a previous season of growth. Taken figuratively, they are the pages of writing that the speaker had previously produced. The speaker appeals to the West Wind to blow them away so that change and fresh ideas may come in springtime.

These leaves have been tainted. In the second stanza, they are assigned the same colors as the four horsemen of the apocalypse. This allusion is meant to make the reader think that the old writings of the speaker are infected or cursed in a certain sense. Thus, they must be removed: "Like wither'd leaves to quicken a new birth!"

Over the course of this poem, the speaker mentions how it is time for these leaves to depart. We are meant to imagine pages of writing when we think of these dead leaves. When reading the poem, we can imagine the rustling sound of these dead leaves in the wind, much the same way we might imagine the sound of pages being turned, crumpled, and discarded.

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