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

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.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on