What does the poet request of the West Wind and why?

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The poet asks the West Wind to make him its lyre and to sing through him, that his poetry may present the power and beauty of nature.

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In “Ode to the West Wind,” Percy Bysshe Shelley has a special request for the West Wind in the poem's final section. “Make me thy lyre,” he asks, “even as the forest is.” The poet wants to sing of nature with the power and beauty of the wind. If the wind sings through him, plays him like a stringed instrument, perhaps he can capture some of its force and proclaim some of its “mighty harmonies.” Perhaps he can imitate the wind's tone, which is both sweet and sad. The poet wants his words to mimic such harmonies and tones.

As the poem continues, the poet speaks to the “Spirit fierce,” who is associated with the wind yet is not the wind. The poet seems to be talking about the Holy Spirit here, who is often symbolized by a strong, driving wind. The poet wants this “wind,” this spirit, to become his own spirit and bring his “dead thoughts” to life that his poetry may spread throughout the universe and speak to humanity. This spirit will make the poet a prophet to awaken people to reality and beauty.

In the final stanza, the poet returns to the wind, or perhaps to a combination of the wind and the spirit, and speculates that when winter comes, it can be a sign that spring will follow. Hope remains.

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Why does the speaker pray to the West Wind?

The speaker begins, in the first three stanzas, by describing the power of the West Wind to move natural objects—such as leaves that fall from trees in autumn and waves in the Mediterranean—in beneficial ways. Because the West Wind is so powerful, and because the speaker identifies with it, as he did in boyhood, he prays to it. In stanza 4, he asks the wind, "Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!" In the same stanza, the speaker also alludes to the anguish he feels, saying with emotion that he falls "upon the thorns of life" and "bleed[s]."

In stanza 5, the poem's final section, the speaker makes his prayer clearer. What he wants is not for himself as a body to be lifted up and blown about the earth; rather, he wants his words—his writing and the message he has to convey—to be carried all over the world by the wind. He uses the double meaning of leaves as the leaves of a tree and the leaves of paper on which he writes his words to pray that the West Wind could scatter his leaves—his writing—as it scatters the dead leaves that fall from trees. As he writes, addressing the West Wind,
Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth

The trumpet of a prophecy!
Shelley had many radical ideas for that time period and, in this ode, wishes that he had a bigger audience, which is why he invokes the wind. Of course, he does not literally expect the wind to scatter his message, but his poem, which is lyrical, expresses his anguished longing to be heard.

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