In “Ode to the West Wind,” a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, the speaker expresses his fascination with power and with those forces- both destroyers and preservers- that inspire the same powers within the speaker. The author uses imagery, metaphors, and rhyme scheme to add to the poems meaning. Through word choice, sentence structure, and alliteration Shelley shows that wind brings both good and evil.
The speaker uses his vivid imagery in the poem to paint a picture in ones mind. He uses this imagery as a way to open, or start his poem. From the very beginning the reader can identify with the speaker. The reader knows the speaker’s feelings and can relate to them. “Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou, Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed. (1.4-6)” In these few lines the reader can almost be in the scene that the speaker has created. The words used to describe the leaves are vivid words, which makes one think to look for a deeper meaning. The wind can be calm and peaceful, or wild and raging, just like our human emotions. In that sense the wind is personified. This personification helps us humans to relate to the wind, so that we may gain more from this poem.
Shelly also uses many metaphors in this poem to reveal the theme. The overall metaphor in this poem is the representation of a prayer to God by the wind. Shelly personifies the wind. The wind comes and goes. The wind brings new beginnings and takes away the old and aged. The wind is a very important part of this poem, but one must look closer to realize what the wind actually symbolizes. The speaker wishes for the wind to come in and comfort him in lines 52 – 54. “As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need. Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud! I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!” The speaker is crying out. He is asking for help, he does this in the form of a prayer which is represented by the wind.
The author also uses the rhyme scheme to advance the flow of this poem. The rhyme scheme used in this poem is a special rhyme scheme called terza rima. Personally the rhyme scheme makes the poem harder to read. I would prefer it if the poem was in the typical ABAB form, but the author chose this rhyme scheme for a reason. This rhyme scheme adds a sense of uniqueness to the poem. It is a change from the usual. This scheme makes the poem a very memorable one.
Shelly consistently develops the theme of his work throughout this entire poem. He uses the imagery, metaphors, and rhyme scheme to add to the poems theme, which is forces of power- both destroyers and preservers- that inspire the same powers within the speaker. The speaker is moved and condemned by the wind, much like we are inspired and corrected by God. This theme is portrayed through out the entire poem.