If Winter Comes Can Spring Be Far Behind

What does the quote "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" mean?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this poem, Shelley is talking about how he would like his poetry to be important for long after he is dead.

In most of the poem, he talks about how the wind affects nature.  He says that it goes along sweeping up dead leaves and such and blowing them around.  When they land, they help create new life.

He is hoping that his poems can be like the leaves and such that the wind blows.  He hopes that they will land (on people's minds) and help to nurture new growth.  The last line expresses optimism about this -- even if it seems like his poems will die and be ignored (winter) there will still be a spring where his poems will help create new (intellectual or spiritual) life among people.

ramlakshmi | Student

These line has an ever increasing charm about it.The poet ,in fact, even dares anyone to deny the sound logic behind the line.Winter here stands for all factors that cause disenchantment with life. Spring refers to the passion for life.Spring and winter are part of a cycle of seasons.Which way the cycle rolls or where it begins decide the sequence of ups and downs in life.This line exudes optimism.Shelly is very clever in using this metaphor. No one can reverse the line 'If Spring comes can Winter be far behind?' It will definitely be far behind because there are two intervening seasons namely summer and autumn.       

edprence | Student

"pohnpei397" is very close. But Shelley isn't just talking about his own poetry. He's talking about all poetry and art. He saying that just as the north wind blows and erodes and destroys, that time and nature eventually wear down and destroy us all. Nothing survives; not men, not temples, not kingdoms. Nothing but art and poetry and the ideas that they inspire. These are the seeds of mankind. They will be reborn again and again and again, as long as men walk the earth. If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

gopee | Student

In the last line of the poem Shelley expresses an optimism. In the last two stanzas he describes with the wind his emotions and troubles. In the last stanza the poet is asking the west wind to refresh his mind and to quicken the birth of new ideas. He makes the prediction in the last line. Beyond the winter ,beyond the sufferings,beyond the storm Shelley sees a spring for mankind,he feels that times will improve.

He means that out of death life will come out; out of despair and disillusionment...hope,out of ashes... fire and he expects a regeneration of mankind.

mukheeja | Student

It means that if we are now having some sort of sorrows, doesn't mean we'll never get the spring,i.e., happiness in our life. "Winter" here is referred to as the sorrows in our life cycle. We all know that every year there is a cycle of all the seasons - winter,spring,summers and then at last comes the autumn. So, if we have any kind of tragic situations in our life doesn't mean that we'll always suffer it. As it is also said that "beaten gold becomes ornaments" so the more we suffer pain and agony, the more we'll have joys in our lives. A death can be very painful, but does not have enough pain in it to get against the happiness after a failure child to come in 1st division or birth of a child. So, if pain comes, can joys be far behind. If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

rhythm | Student

"If winter comes, can spring be far behind?"

This line means that if winter is approaching and everything is dying then there is spring season ahead. Life is a cycle of death & birth. so if someone dies then he also takes a new birth. As winter(death) comes then spring(new life) is also there to give new birth.

gkr | Student


Read the study guide:
Ode to the West Wind

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