Ode to the West Wind Summary Questions Answers

Ode to the West Wind Summary Questions Answers 



Ode to the West Wind Summary Questions Answers



Summary of Ode to the West Wind 

Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the most revolutionary poets of the Romantic Revival. Ode to the West Wind was written near Florence in 1819. 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". Shelley chose the West Wind as it seemed to him to be symbolic of a revolutionary force that would bring about change in the world order.

      Shelley addresses the west wind as the very breath of autumn. The west wind drives away the withered leaves. So it is the destroyer of the dead leaves. It also acts as a preserver as it scatters the seeds underground where they lie buried all the winter. These seeds shoot forth into lively plants in spring and fill the plains with fragrant and colourful flowers. 

        The west wind is like a rushing, impetuous power. The leaf-like clouds are shaken on the current of west wind. These clouds are like the locks of stormy wind, as wild as those on the head of Maenad, a female worshipper of the Greek God of wine Bacchus. Thick vapours that congregate in the sky on a stormy night look like the vault of the tomb for dead year, while the west wind seems to sing the dirge of the dying year.

       The poet also describes the influence of the west wind on the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The Mediterranean Sea sees in Dream the palaces of ancient Rome. It also makes a passage through the Atlantic and the trees at the bottom tremble and shed their leaves in fear of the mighty impact of the west wind. 

       The poet wants to share the impetuous strength and energy of the west wind as he has suffered greatly from the sorrows and sufferings of life. The burden of life's misery has crushed his impetuous spirit and energy.

       Lastly, the poet implores the west wind to make him its lyre so that his prophetic ideas now lying dead in his mind may spread over the whole world for a better and regenerate world.

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Ode to the West Wind Questions Answers

1. How does the West Wind act as a destroyer and a preserver?

Ans: In P.B Shelley's poem, Ode to the West Wind the west wind acts as a destroyer in the the sense that it drives away all the dead and decayed leaves from the trees. At the same time, it acts as a preserver in the sense that it drives the seeds underground and there preserves them that germinate at the advent of the spring wind.

2. Bring out the comparison between driven leaves and ghosts. 

Ans: In P.B Shelley's poem Ode to the West Wind, the poet compares the movement of the dead leaves driven by the west wind with that of the ghosts driven by the exorcist. In the presence of an exorcist the ghosts or evil spirits flee in fear from the bodies in which they take shelter. Similarly at the advent of the west wind the dry, dead and decayed leaves are driven away from the trees.

3. Describe the underground existence of the seeds.

Ans: In P.B Shelley's poem, Ode to the West Wind, the poet compares the underground existence of the seeds with that of the corpses. The west wind by its violent gush drives the seeds into the earth. There the seeds hibernate as safely and peacefully as the corpses lie in the graves. Then the spring wind comes and causes their germination. 

4. Why is the spring wind the "azure sister" of the west wind? Describe its activities. 

Ans: The spring wind is called "azure" because it blows under the bright blue sky of spring. It is the sister of the west wind in the sense that it appears after the west wind and it is the gentler, more feminine and tender aspect of the west wind.
        The spring wind wakes up the seeds that hibernate underground during winter and causes their germination and bloom. Thus, it fills the desolate wintry earth with colour and smell. 

5. Explain the phrase "driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air".

Ans: In the quoted line taken from P.B Shelley's poem, Ode to the West Wind, the enlivening vernal Zephyr is here compared to a shepherd, the flower-buds to flocks of sheep and the air to the green pasture ground. Just as a shepherd takes out his flock of sheep to graze on the green field to feed them, similarly the spring wind feeds the buds in warm vernal air to develop them in full bloom.

6. Explain the expression "the tangled boughs of leaves and ocean".

Ans: The quoted expression taken from P.B Shelley's poem, Ode to the West Wind refers to the entangled situation of the sea-waves and the clouds. Near the horizon it seems that the clouds and sea-waves touch one another and create an intertwined condition. It is imagined by the poet that from this maze the loose clouds scatter under the violent gush of the west wind and these are conceived as the dry and dead leaves driven away from the boughs by the west wind. 

7. Bring out the comparison between cloud and Maenad's hair.

Ans: In Ode to the West Wind,  the poet P.B Shelley while describing the mighty impact of the west wind on the sky, compares the disordered, wavy strands of cloud scurrying in the violent west wind with the disheveled hair on the head of some fierce, intoxicated woman worshiping of Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, revelry and vegetation. Those woman-worshipers are called Maenads who being possessed by the God's power, danced about in their frenzy and killed animals in honour of the god. By comparing clouds with the hair of the Maenads, Shelley actually brings out the mighty and violent impact of the west wind. 

8. Why is the west wind called "dirge of the dying year"? How is the sepulchre of the year constructed?

Ans: In Ode to the West Wind, the poet, P.B Shelley calls the sound of the west wind "a dirge" or a funeral song because when the west wind blows it is Autumn and the year is about to come to its end and then it seems that Nature is lamenting over the dying year in the wailing sound of the west wind. 
          To receive the dead body of the dying year the sepulchre or tomb is constructed by the cloudy black mighty sky. The vault of the tomb is formed by all the masses of clouds and vapours condensed by the west wind into a solid atmosphere out of which bursts forth air, thunder, lightning and hail. Under this cloudy vault of tomb the dead body of the year is buried. 

9. How has Shelley described the underwater scene?

Ans: In Ode to the West Wind, the poet P.B Shelley, to describe the mighty impact of the west wind on the sea, metaphorically describes the underwater scene. The blue Mediterranean is personified and pictured as the sea-God sleeping and dreaming of the moss-muffled submerged palaces and towers scented with the fragrant flowers beside "a pumice isle" or an island formed by the deposit of lava from Vesuvius in Baiae's bay. The west wind moves majestically on the smooth waves of the Atlantic Ocean and as it passes the waves are divided, leaving deep hollows between them. The aquatic vegetation normally loses its green colour in autumn, hence it is imagined that the vegetation grows pale with the fear of the majestic west wind. This description reeks of Shelley's myth making power. 

10. Explain the expression "scarce seemed a vision".

Ans: The quoted line taken from Shelley's poem, Ode to the West Wind is redolent of the poet's frantic desire to have at least the partial impetuosity of the west wind. The poet recollects his boyhood when he could boil and bubble in juvenile gusto and then it scarcely seemed to him that to outdo the west wind in impetuosity was impossible. But now, being tormented by the troubles and sorrows of life, the poet earnestly hankers after the strength of the mighty west wind. 

11. Explain the expression "I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed".

Ans: The quoted line taken from P.B Shelley's poem Ode to the West Wind unveils the poet's anguished heart that is bleeding due to the pains and misfortunes he has experienced in life. Life has dealt roughly with him. Abandoned of the society, howled down by the critics the poet feels that he is bleeding on the thrones of life. The weight of miseries has bent him to the ground. All his energies have been spent by his struggle with the society. Therefore, the poet makes a passionate appeal to the west wind to breathe into him its energizing power. (Prof. Dowden writes that by the expression "thorns of life" Shelley might be thinking of the attacks made by the reviewers upon his Revolt of Islam).

12. How can the poet be the lyre of the west wind?

Ans: In Ode to the West Wind, the poet P.B Shelley earnestly requests the west wind to make him his lyre like the forest. The forest is the lyre of the west wind in the sense that in Autumn when the west wind blows through the trees, a deep and solemn music is produced. So the poet earnestly invokes through him to draw out a solemn and mighty music to help him to lift the world from inertness and dull stupor.

13. What is the appeal of the poet to the west wind?

Ans: In P.B Shelley's poem, Ode to the West Wind the dull and dejected poet fervently appeals to the west wind to be identified with him and scatters his dead thoughts hitherto unknown and Imperative over the seed-bed of society to make it fertile and facilitate the germination and growth of a new and better social order. 

14. Why does the poet compare himself to an "unextinguished hearth"?

Ans: In Ode to the West Wind, the poet P.B Shelley compares his own mind with a hearth which is about to be extinguished because he feels that he has been weakened by time and miseries of life. So he appeals to the west wind to endow him with an irresistible magical power to hasten a millennial regeneration of the society in the same way in which the sparks of living fire from the ashes of an unextinguished hearth are blown hither and thither by the wind.

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