"If Winter Comes, Can Spring Be Far Behind?"

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 251

Context: This vivid lyric poem reveals Shelley's ability to paint colorful and exciting pictures of nature. He addresses the "wild West Wind," the "breath of Autumn's being," and then describes the wind-driven autumn leaves and seeds, "pestilence-stricken multitudes." "Hear, oh, hear!" the poet begs the "Wild Spirit" of the wind,...

(The entire section contains 251 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this Ode to the West Wind study guide. You'll get access to all of the Ode to the West Wind content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Themes
  • Analysis
  • Quotes
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Context: This vivid lyric poem reveals Shelley's ability to paint colorful and exciting pictures of nature. He addresses the "wild West Wind," the "breath of Autumn's being," and then describes the wind-driven autumn leaves and seeds, "pestilence-stricken multitudes." "Hear, oh, hear!" the poet begs the "Wild Spirit" of the wind, the "dirge/ Of the dying year." Then the poet describes the clouds of a storm being driven forward by the West Wind. Now he reveals the reason for his admiration of the West Wind. He is in "sore need," for his wildly romantic poetic powers have weakened, and he needs some inspiration to lift him above the dull, everyday world: "I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!" he screams. He wishes he were a "dead leaf," a "swift cloud," or a wave, so that he could be lifted by the wind. He remembers his lost boyhood, when he wildly believed himself able to "outstrip [the wind's] skyey speed." Time has "chained and bowed" the poet, who was "tameless, and swift, and proud" like the wind. He begs the wind to make him its lyre, to become his spirit, and he sees a glimmer of hope:

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse.
Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawakened earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Illustration of PDF document

Download Ode to the West Wind Study Guide

Subscribe Now