What message does the wind convey?

The wind conveys the message that nature can be a destructive force but also a helpful one and that there is hope for the future.

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In Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Ode to the West Wind,” the West Wind is a powerful force. Consider how the speaker compares the wind to the fierce, wild Maenad and calls it a prophecy. To the speaker, the wind is a sign of the changing of the...

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In Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Ode to the West Wind,” the West Wind is a powerful force. Consider how the speaker compares the wind to the fierce, wild Maenad and calls it a prophecy. To the speaker, the wind is a sign of the changing of the seasons and therefore a symbol of the intense forces of the natural world. The West Wind can be destructive, but it can also be helpful. The speaker is in awe of this and wants to harness the wind’s strength so that his words can spread all over the world.

In this poem, Shelley is using the idea of the wind and the changing of the seasons to represent the political climate of his times. Note how the poem is focused on the West Wind. In this context, west is a symbol of America, which had recently had a revolution. As if fueled by a destructive wind, the colonies in America were able to destroy the political structure that oppressed them.

Shelley was in favor of revolutionary change and thus looked to the “wind” as a sign that there is hope at home, too. Although the speaker feels despair at the coming cold weather, the wind reminds him that the seasons change and therefore, spring, the season of rebirth and beauty, will eventually come. This is summed up in the memorable last line:

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

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