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Literature Case

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Paying close attention to particular images in the poem under construction, discuss how metaphor and metonymy are used in either Wordsworth's "Three years ago she grew in sun and shower" OR Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" to suggest surprising connections, enabling a wide range of connotations and possible interpretations.

P. B. Shelley's Ode to the West Wind is a highly thought provoking poem that invites readers to explore their own feelings towards life itself, through the idea of the wind. Rich in hidden connotations and open to a plethora of meanings, the ode provides an imagery that allows the audience to immerse themselves in the idea of the wind as a 'destroyer and preserver', the catalyst that provides the idea of inspiration. This essay explores the metaphors and meanings I have gained through reading this piece, as well as exploring the many faces of the wind, the idea of nature as a cycle, and exploring the piece as an ode to life itself and the ways in which we should approach it.

Like looking through clouded glass, when we read poems we can see them in many different and skewed ways, but once we have digested it we can see through the clouds and the meaning becomes clearer in our minds. Upon initial inspection the poem appeared to be a dedication to the wind as a gift from the gods, the 'preserver' that clears the land of the rotten and the 'dead' and provides new life for the earth. As it goes on the poet appears to be pleading to the wind in his time of need, the wind itself a personification that can help the author reach his true desire, or escape his current state of despair. The poet describes the activities of the wind and then implores the wind to 'lift' him as it has done the waves, the leaves and the clouds, to be lead to a change similar to that of the earth. The contrast of the wind changing the world from autumn to spring to the idea of the poet finding a change in his own life fuels the notion of the wind as a changing facilitator, as a chance to make a transformation. On the surface the poem, and the wind, is a symbolisation of the rejuvenating force of the universe and the idea that a wind can act as a reviving force for the poet. However, upon deeper inspection into the words, the metonyms that lie within give deeper meaning to the view in which I conceived.

The wind itself is indeed a metonym for autumn, a 'breath of autumn's being', but more importantly it is a metaphor that carries the entire poem. The wind starts out as the inspiration for the piece, the author describing the paradoxical destructive and protective characteristics. Calling the wind 'a wild spirit' also implies the wind is being seen as inspiration; as a metaphor for the fact that you cannot wait for inspiration, you must chase after it, just as the poet it chasing after the 'wild spirit' of the wind. As the author implores the wind to 'hear' him, however, I began to perceive the wind as an embodiment of hope. The poet is pleading with the wind to listen to him, making stark comparisons of himself to the 'dead leaf thou might bearest', the 'swift cloud to fly with thee', and the 'wave to part beneath thy power', the trifecta of elements from the initial stanzas acting as the agents of envy for the poet. The wind has been given a position of high sovereignty and is the hope the poet looks to for salvation. The poet dramatically proclaims 'I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!', which appears to me as proof that he is willing to throw himself into great difficulty to achieve what he wants, to be taken by the wind in his hour of need. This further implies the idea of the wind as a symbol of faith for the poet.

Through the continual referral to the central element of autumn, the inevitable winter and the coming of spring, I came to the comparison of the seasons to this idea of hope and indeed of happiness. We accept the cycle of seasons as a part of nature and do not question it, and yet we question the idea of life as a cycle of good and bad times. I believe the poet is imploring us, as he is imploring the wind, to question the idea of this cycle



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