Essay on Analysis of "Ode to the West Wind"

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Each of the poem's five stanzas contains a sonnet with a closing couplet. It is written in iambic pentameter in terza rima formation. The rhyming pattern follows the form aba bcb cdc ded ee. According to Shelley's note, "this poem was conceived and chiefly written in a wood that skirts the Arno, near Florence, and on a day when that tempestuous wind, whose temperature is at once mild and animating, was collecting the vapours which pour down the autumnal rains. They began, as I foresaw, at sunset with a violent tempest of hail and rain, attended that magnificent thunder and lightning peculiar to the Cisalpine regions." It was written in the autumn of 1819 and published the following year. It is clear from the flamboyant language used in …show more content…
The "leaves dead" are the dead leaves of a tree being blown about by the wind, however, they could also be the leaves of a book and a reference to Shelley's fear of his diminishing talent and unread work. Shelley goes on to liken the dead leaves to "ghosts from an enchanter fleeing", clearly building up the sense of death and life after death brought by the west wind. The phrase also emphasises the supernatural power of the west wind.

It is possible that Shelley viewed those killed in the Peterloo massacre as martyrs for the cause and that their death is part of the necessary changes. The description of leaves "Yellow, and black, and pale" is thought to represent the different races of human beings. The United Kingdom was certainly becoming ever more multicultural at this time. That the leaves are also described as "hectic red (fevered), Pestilence stricken multitudes" could refer to the poor conditions of the multicultural working class. The leaves are being buffeted about by the wind to symbolise the hardships that must be endured by the people before change can take place. It is almost certain that the poet wanted the reader to consider the meaning of these lines as there are frequent commas causing pauses, which create emphasis.

There are several images in the first stanza that build up a sense of death, haunting and the