Ode to the west wind’ strikes the characteristically, Shelleyan note of self-pity and exaltation” — discuss.
Answer: The faculty of the visionary and revolutionary zeal was inherent in the mind of Shelley, because he entered the world of poetry during the turmoil of the French Revolution. From his earliest years, he found himself in opposition to the convention of the class to which he belonged. So he denounced the existing order of things and assailed the barrier which checked the free development of human spirit. The pain which inflicted his heart was the hard-heartedness of society, which instead of hailing him as an intellectual apostle and liberator, hugged its chains and regarded him as a moral outcast.
‘Ode to the West Wind’ is a matchless ode in which Shelley passes from a magnificent realization of Nature’s power to self-description. His very being is blended with Nature and thus he himself and Nature together declare the coming of the Golden age of mankind.
In the first three stanzas, the West Wind is – presented as a terrible Natural power with its influence on land, in the air and on and under ocean. In these stanzas the West Wind appears as a destructive and creative agent of Nature In the fourth stanza, Shelley Involves himself with the West wind. He sees the West Wind as a He finds an affinity between himself symbol of his own personality too, and the West Wind. Once he, in his boyhood, was wild, West Wind. But now he feels bent uncontrollable and swift like the and Oppressed under misfortune, under the hard rules of society.
There is the intensity of the feeling of self-pity or helpless condition of Shelley,
“I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!”
This is rather his weakness as a human being, because he is chained to the gross matter of fact world. This essential feeling of antagonism between his own delicate spiritual being and the hostile world of matter made him miserable.
Shelley expresses his highly sensitive and supremely imaginative soul crushed under the weary weight of hours, the existing order of things. So in agony he appeals to the West Wind to lift him as a leaf, a cloud, or a wave so that he can feel the power of the wind. But this feeling of sadness is no expression of weakness. Shelley is not completely hopeless. From the state of a broken heart there is suddenly the rise of the poet’s own element of fire. He asks the West Wind to drive or scatter his dead thoughts over the universe so that they may act as a regenerating force in the society of men. Just as ashes and sparks fly in all directions from a hearth where the fire is not yet completely extinguished, so also the poet wants his words to be preached among mankind by the force of the West Wind as well as by the magic of his song. He wishes the West Wind to act as his mouthpiece for declaring the arrival of the golden Age. “0 wind/If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” Thus the poem ends with the Shelleyan optimism and exaltation over the triumph of human spirit.
To sum up, through the ‘Ode to the West Wind’, Shelley explains not only his own delicate being in the existing corrupt order of life but also sings the glory of human spirit. He stands not as a helpless man, crushed and beaten down by the hostile conventions and institutions but as a rebel who triumphs over the forces of evil. In fact, the poem gives us a glimpse into the nature, temperament and philosophy of Shelley.