Ode to the West Wind

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A poem by P. B. Shelley, published 1820. The Ode is a passionate invocation to the spirit of the West Wind, both ‘Destroyer and Preserver’. It is composed in five sweeping stanzaic movements, each taking the form of a sonnet, but with complex musical patterns of internal rhyme and run‐on lines, culminating in a breathless series of cries or questions. Shelley's minute observations of wind, water, wood, cloud, and sky, combine imagery which is simultaneously scientific, mythical, and even biblical. The total effect is one of transcendent hope and energy, achieved through suffering and despair.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792—1822) poet

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