Ode to the West Wind

About the poem

“Ode to the West Wind” is an ode by Percy Bysshe Shelley, written in 1819 in Florence, Italy. The poem was published in 1820, with his unperformable play ‘Prometheus’.

In what circumstances Ode to the West Wind has written?

Shelley claims that he wrote Ode to the West Wind while sitting on the woods near the Arno river on a windy day in October. He was feeling depressed about being detached from the political and social scene back in his native England.

As a political, religious and literary radical, Shelley was heavily invested in his own ability to influence society. Some poets need solitude and privacy and a retreat in the woods to do their best work, but Shelley needed stimulating arguments and social action.

“Ode to the West Wind” is one of the poems in which he considers the role and power of the poet or philosopher to spread new ideas and effect change. Its also one of Shelly’s more accessible poems. Its brevity, smooth tone and straightforward use of natural imagery presents his abstract ideas about philosophy and poetry in a compact way.

Therefore, it could be the Shelley’s own life summary or aspects.

Theme of the poem

The poem is based on theme like; Power, human limitations and the natural world.  In Ode to the West Wind, the poet adores power and grandeur of the west wind, and also hopes that revolutionary ideas could reach every corner of the universe.

Summary and Analysis

In the first part of the “Ode to the West Wind” poet invokes the “Wild West Wind” of autumn, that scatters the dead leaves and spreads seeds so that they may be nurtured by the spring and asks that wind, a destroyer and preserver, hear him. The speaker calls the wind the “dirge of the dying year, and describes how it stirs up violent storms and again implores it to hear him.

The speaker says that the wind stirs the Mediterranean from “his summer dreams” and cleaves the Atlantic into choppy chasm making the “sapless foliage” of the ocean tremble, and asks for a third time that it hear him.

In the second part of the “Ode to the West Wind” the poem deals with the “sky”, like withered leaves the loose clouds fall from the unseen forests of the heaven into the river of the west wind. Suddenly the imagery of the leaves is replaced by the human imagery. The clouds become hair of a huge giant.

The west wind then transformed into a mournful tune. And the rapidly encroaching night becomes the dome of an extensive sepulcher, canopied by the unifying power of the west wind.

In the third part of the “Ode to the West Wind” the poem presents the effects of the wind on the sea. Here, the placid Mediterranean is personified- asleep, dreaming of old palaces and towers which are not only reflections. The West Wind drives away unreal thoughts of the Mediterranean Sea. The under- water vegetation feels the arrival of the west wind that sheds the leaves.

The speaker says that if he were a dead leaf that wind could bear, or a cloud it carries, or a wave it could push, or even if he were as a boy, “the comrade” of the wind’s “wandering over heaven”, then he would never have needed to pray to the wind and invoke its powers.

He pleads with the wind to lift him “as wave, a leaf, a cloud”, for though he is like the wind at heart, untamable and proud, he is now chained and bowed with weight of his hours upon the earth.

The speaker asks the wind to “make me thy Iyre”, i.e. to be his own spirit and to drive his thoughts across the universe, “like withered” leaves to quicken a new birth”. He asks the wind by the incantation of this verse, to scatter his words among mankind to be the “trumpet of a prophecy”. Speaking both in regard to the season and in regard to the effect upon mankind that he hopes his words to have, the speaker asks, “if winter comes, can spring be far behind”. This makes the poem full of optimism and new hopes.

In the fourth part of the “Ode to the West Wind” the poem presents the details of this identification sought to be established between the poet and the west wind. He desires to become the mouth piece of the west wind as the forest is the Iyre on which it plays the rustling tune. He asks the west wind to drive his old dead which will form the manure to help the blossoming forth of new conceptions. The poet wants that the prophetic note of the west wind should spread throughout the worlds though his mouth. The optimistic prophecy, ‘if winter come, can spring be far behind’ makes the poem full of optimism and new hopes.

Therefore, Shelley invokes the wind magically describing its power and its role as both “destroyer and preserver”, and asks the wind to sweep him out of his torpor as wave, a leaf, a cloud.

In the fifth part of the “Ode to the West Wind” the poet takes the remarkable turn and transforms the wind into a metaphor for his own art, then the expressive capacity that drives ‘dead thought’ like ‘withered leaves’ over the universe, to quicken a new birth, that is to quicken the coming of the spring. Here, the spring season is a metaphor for a “spring’ of human consciousness, imagination, liberty or morality” and all the things Shelly hoped his art could help to bring about in the human mind. Shelly asks the wind to be his spirit and in the same movement, he makes it his metaphorical spirit, his poetic faculty which will play him like a musical instrument the way the wind strums the leaves of the trees.

Form of the Poem         

“Ode to the West Wind” contains five stanzas, each containing four to three lines and two- line couplet. And written in iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme in each part follows a pattern known as terza rima, and three- line rhyme scheme employed by Dante in his Divine Comedy. In the three- line terza rima stanza, the first and third- lines rhyme and the middle line doesn’t, then the end sound of that middle line is employed as the rhyme for the first and third lines in the next stanza.

The final couplet rhymes with the middle line of the last three-line stanza. Thus, each of the seven parts of “Ode to the West Wind” follows the scheme ABA BCB CDC DED and EE.


Toads poem summary

About the poem

‘Toads’ is a poem by Philip Larkin published through the collection of ‘The Less deceived’ in 1955. ‘Toad’ here refers as the necessity and value of work.  The poet describes the relationship between the modern people and their work. This poem is written in 9 stanzas and each stanza has four lines. The poet uses toad as metaphor to describe the work situation. 

The toad in the poem is defining the pressure of ‘job’ as how a modern people unwillingly have to do their job just for paying few bills even though they are not satisfied with their pay, still they have to fulfill their duty as part of their work, it is like poison for them. Further, the pressure which a working person have to go through is just like toad who signifies here not only the pressure but financial stability, obligations and exterior for working class, by the poet.

Theme of the poem

The theme of the poem is based on ‘freedom and confinement’, ‘hopes and expectations, and ‘dissatisfaction’ of modern class working people.

Summary

In the first stanza, poet compares his work with a toad, like; how toad has sat against his will and destroying his life, and he wants to get rid of that toad by using pitchfork (an equipment to remove grass) but he is not able to remove.

In the second stanza, the poet describes how he works whole week (6 days) just for paying few bills, which is not up to the proportion (low pay), here the poet is justifying that whether the pay is low or high the modern people still have to go and do their job.

In the third stanza, poet giving an example of few people who earn money simply, by using their mind like Lecturer, Lispers (speakers) Losels (worthless people) and loblolly (foolish people). And they still live good life and don’t end up living in poverty.

The fourth stanza, describes that there are lots of people who live on streets (lane) and still they have privilege to manage fire and cook food in a bucket not only that but they are able to eat when wind blows and fruit falls, it seems that they like all these.

The fifth stanza, shows that how nippers (children) run around without having slippers in their feet. And the wives of these people do not speak and they are so skinny like whippets (skinny dog) and still they don’t die but manage to survive.

In the sixth stanza, the poet wishing for courage to go and tell his boss to shout your stuff (your pension). But on the other hand, he is also aware about that all the dreams are hang on this job and pay.

The seventh stanza, here the poet says that toad which is sit inside me is so heavy like his leg is as heavy as his work. Using Metaphor, the poet compares his workload with a heavyweight toad. Also, the toad is as icy as snow. It signifies that working in 6 days a week has no fun, but still have to do to pay bills.

The eighth stanza, the poet describes that toad won’t allow me to do blarney (to persuade with charm) to speak properly. All the things (money, girl and fame) which I want in for better living is not coming to me by just sitting, so I have to work.

And in the last stanza, the poet says that my external toad has created my internal toad (spiritual body) so it’s difficult to lose both of them together. The poet says that both are my external and internal forces, so it’s hard to loose either.

The poet uses Toad as a subject to realize the value of work and necessity for living whether we wish to do or not, It signifies the value of work, even if it is humdrum (boring) for humankind. We all have to perform our duty and do the job, also poet says that majority of people do.

Also Read: Toads poem

Church Going poem summary

About the poem

CHURCH GOING is a poem written by PHILIP LARKIN, in Ireland and published in 1954 through the collection of ‘The Less Deceived’. This poem is a masterpiece work by Philip Larkin.

Theme of the poem

The poem majorly depicts the religious matters, therefore the theme is an erosion of religious abutments that shows how people respect and follow their respective religion.

Form of the Poem

The poem has 63 lines, divided into 7 stanza and each stanza carry 9 lines. Each stanza has similar rhyming scheme- ABABCDECE, and iambic tetrameter.

Summary and Analysis

The poem ‘Church Going’ describes the curiosity and experience of the poet while visiting to the Church. The language of the poem is conversational and in the form of interrogation. It says that why people need to worship? Why they need to go to the worship places? It also explores the issue of the Church on the basis of religion. Also, the title of the poem interprets different aspects of religious matter, as the act of going to the Church, the customs that keep the Church alive, visiting the Church etc.

This poem is also an experience of poet himself, as it describes the visit to a CHURCH by Philip Larkin. In the poem Church Going, “Going” can also be described as his visit to the Church or declining faith in religion. In fact, Larkin himself says that he is more concerned with “going” to church, not to religion, but for himself the Church becomes a representative institution, and when Larkin speaks of it, he is at the same time concerned with religion. The point of view presented in the poem is not a unilateral one.

The opening line of the poem are more important for what they imply as,…”Once I am sure there’s nothing going on I step inside, letting the door thud shut”.  The poet probably would not have entered if some religious activity had been going on inside. He would have felt uncomfortable, embarrassed, ill at ease. The poet says that, he belongs to an age that is in ferment, the old being obsolete and the new not yet fit to take its place. Therefore, the values that were believed in earlier no longer provide spiritual support. Moreover, the poem is also described by G.S Fraser as the “movement’s prize religion”. It represents the true picture of the post- war Welfare State Englishman. Shabby and not concerned with his appearance’ like poor people who has a bike but not a car, gauche but full of agnostic pity. They are underpaid, underfed, overtaxed, hopeless and bored. In other words, the protagonist of “Church Going” is another variation of the unknown citizen that Auden spoke of in the thirties.

Philip Larkin wrote this poem very technically by following all the rules of poetry elements like; rhyme, metre, stanza etc.