What is the theme of the second stanza of the poem ''Ode to the West Wind''?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The theme of the second stanza of this powerful poem very much supports the first in the way that it seeks to present the awful and awesome power of the West Wind as a force to be reckoned with. This is conveyed through the description of the storm being ushered in by the West Wind. A complex simile is used to compare the thunderclouds blown by the wind to the hair of a Maenad, which represents a classical allusion to one of the crazed women who accompanied Dionysus, the god of wine, in his maddened and debauched orgies, throwing their hair around:

Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge

Of the horizon to the zenith's height,

The locks of the approaching storm.

The impact of this simile is therefore to focus on the way that the West Wind is a chaotic and powerful force of nature that rips through its environment with strength. In the final lines of the stanza, this image is accompanied by a metaphor that describes the wind as the "dirge" of the "dying year," which focuses on the way that the wind is linked to death and destruction. Thematically, the power of the Wind to not only give life but to take it away is therefore very important in this stanza.

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