Question: How is the west wind treated as both a destroyer and preserver?
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) is one of the best romantic poets. He is called ”the poet of the revolution” for his powerful composing. ”Ode to the West Wind” (1820) is the fine symbol of revolutionary attitude. In the poem, he addresses the west wind as a destroyer and preserver.
The west wind as a destroyer
At the beginning stanza, the poet discusses the destruction of the west wind. He addresses to the west wind as ”breath of Autumn’s being”. This wild wind blows everywhere through the power of destruction. As a result, old, weak leaves and seeds of trees fall down to the soil. That means the west wind destroys leaves and seeds. Thus, the west wind is the destroyer.
The west wind as a preserver
In the last part of the first stanza, the poet discusses the west wind as a preserver. Normally, if we want a new tree, we have to plant its seed in the ground first. The poet says that Autumn’s west wind helps to plant a new-born tree. Firstly, it throws seeds from the trees in the soil. Later, in Spring these seeds can be grown. Thus, the west wind is a preserver. In the poet’s tongue:
”Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear!”
To sum up, this poem is not for the only tree but also the history of mankind. The message of the poem is if we want the new thing, we have to destroy the old thing.