Ode to the West Wind Questions and Answers
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ode to the West Wind book cover
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What is the summary of the poem "Ode to the West Wind"?

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This poem, in the Romantic tradition, makes the universal comparison of the seasons to human life, Shelley finds himself in the “Autumn” of his life, and in triads with a smooth rhyme scheme that ties them into a chain, with a couplet ending each section, describes in beautiful detail the effects of an Autumn wind, blowing leaves and clouds about; the poet elicits many images from nature – waking Summer from its dreams, etc.—until section 4, where he begins to compare his poems (and himself) with the dry Autumn leaves being blown about, and expressing the wish that his poems, too, could take “a deep, autumnal tone”  “Be thou, Spirit fierce, My spirit!”  “Drive my dead thoughts over the universe…”  The poem, complex and very carefully wrought, takes the West wind and personifies it in comparison to the poet’s own impulses.  The final line has become an anthem for advancing years, death, and a rebirth into higher consciousness (a favorite theme in Romantic literature): “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

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