In modern times, the term romantic spikes imagery of sentimentality and love, however, the term “Romanticism” covers a wider meaning. It encompasses an array of development in art, literature, philosophy, and music starting from the late 18th and early 19th centuries (Forward). During the period of romantics, major transitions happened in the society, as dissatisfied artists and intellectuals challenged the establishment. Romantic poets in England were the core of the movement. The desire for liberty inspired the poets as they spoke against exploitation of the poor with a focus on importance of the person; a conviction that individuals should follow ideals instead of rules and conventions imposed on them.
Major early romantic poets sprang during this period. They include the legendary poets such as William Blake (1757-1827), William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Samuel Coleridge (1772-1834), Lord Byron (1788-1824), John Keats (1795-1821) and Percy Byshee Shelley (1792-1822), (Forward). They had an initiative feeling that they had been selected to liberate others through the tempestuous age of enlightenment. Some of the main features of the poems written at the time include themes of beauty of the supernatural, importance of nature, dangers of technology, and championing of the individual by attempting to free itself from traditional systems and subjects.
“Ode to the West Wind” is one of the romantic poems written by Percy Bysshe Shelley finalized in October 1819 while she was staying in Florence, Italy, and published in 1820. The poem demonstrates the most powerful effect of a certain wind. It also exhibits Percy’s desire to use the mighty West Wind to make individuals realize the importance of this natural blessing. On the other hand, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” was a romantic poem written by the great Romantic poet, William Wordsworth, and published in 1807. It is an intriguing narrative poem describing childhood, mortality, and faith. The poet discusses about his strong connection to the natural world and people tendency to comprehend its value. This paper will explore the similarities and differences of the two poems including themes, application of symbolism, poetic devices as well as settings. The article will demonstrate how reading these two poems together enhances the understanding of both poems by the reader.
COMPARISON OF “ODE IN THE WEST WIND” AND “ODE: INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY FROM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD” POEMS
In my view, the first similarity between the two poems is that they both use nature to illustrate the life and death of the human spirit. As they describe nature, the poets compare Earth and its life to the human life. Shelley uses the seasons to demonstrate the human life during reincarnation. He compares himself to nature things such as clouds, waves, and leaves. He composes the poem as if he was an earth object and how it is like to once live, die then be reborn. On the other hand, William focuses more on the human life stages. He uses images such as fields, birds, meadows to illustrate what gives him life. He demonstrates life as whatever a human being requires to move on, and without these things, he cannot live. Unlike Shelley, Wordsworth does not compare himself with the objects but instead utilize them as examples to express his feelings about the stages of life. Right from infancy, to a young adult to becoming a man, a man understands that death is coming but cannot do anything about it as it is a part of life passage.
Both poems also merge the representation of power and nature. In Ode of the Wind, Shelley manifests the power of the natural west wind and that of poetry. He calls the destructor, musician, wind preserver, agent of change and musician and petitions to the west wind to make him mighty as himself so he can spread his ideologies across the world. Further, to make the world aware of his presence, he requests the wind the wind to convert him into a musical instrument so he can play the tune of his ideas and thoughts. He also asks the west wind to bring winter which represents death but remains hopeful for the after life as winter will be followed by spring.
Similarly, in “Ode: Intimations of Immortality”, the poet expresses his sentiments for the natural world. Nature seemed mystical and spiritual to Wordsworth as a child. However, as he grew, its glories and bounties faded up. Although nature is filled with delightful objects, they lost their touch and feel as humans no longer enjoy the blissfulness of nature. Ultimately, he changes his mind and starts to appreciate the beauty of nature. He describes the power of learning from his experiences by seeing himself through the lens of an innocent kid. He brings out a main theme of focusing on not losing our relationship with nature and heaven when we grow up where things on earth make us forget where we all belong.
In addition, the two poems use similar literacy devices to bring out the richness to the text and assist readers comprehend the deeper hidden meanings conveyed in the poems. One main literacy device that both poets use is alliteration. Shelly uses repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of letter W in “O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being” and the sound of letter g in “Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear” (Kapstein). Similarly, Wordsworth uses alliteration too. He uses the sound of /h/ in “ My heart hath its coronal”, /s/ in “Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song” and /t/ in “Filling from time to time his humorous stage”, (“Ode: Intimations Of Immortality – Literary Devices And Poetic Devices”).
Another literacy device used by Shelly and Wordsworth is enjambment which refers to a thought that does not come to a line break end but instead moves to the next line. For example, in Shelly ode to the west wind, the fourth tercet of the third canto poems reads:
“Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know.” (Horine)
Similarly, in the “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” poem, the poet uses enjambment in the second last verse of the last stanza as below:
“To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.” (Wordsworth, and Mosher)
Additionally, both poets use imagery to allow readers use their five senses to perceive ideas. Some of the visual imagery used by Shelly include “Angles of rain and lightning”, “yellow, and black and pale and hectic red” and “dark wintery bed” (Kapstein 1069). Also, auditory imagery is used including use of “Black rain and fire and hail will burst” and “the trumpet of a prophecy”. Lastly, Shelly uses kinetic imagery in verses of the poem such as ““Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth Ashes and sparks” and “Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere”. Similarly, imagery is used by William Wordsworth poem is verses including “Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own”, “The Rainbow comes and goes” and “Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower” among others (Wordsworth, and Mosher).
Additionally, both poems utilize similar literacy devices. For instance, both use stanzas which is a poetic representation of several lines. Wordsworth poem has eleven stanzas and each of them has different number of verses. Similarly, Shelly’s Ode to the West Wind has five cantos with four tercets and one couplet in each canto. Every canto has about twenty-three stanzas.
On the other hand, there are additional different literacy devices used in each poem. Wordsworth uses free verses which are poetic type that lacks rhyme or meter patterns. Shelly uses three additional literacy devices. One is the application of Terza Rima whereby the first and last line rhyme. One such instance is as below lines:
“Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:” (Shelly)
Additionally, Shelly utilizes lambic pentameter for “The winged seeds where they lie cold and low” (Shelly). Also, lambic hexameter is used where each line of the poem’s meter has six lambs. A good example is where the poet says, “Shook from the tangled boughs of heaven and ocean” (Herine).
Reading through and understanding the two poems, it is evident that they also share another common theme of religion and/or spirituality. In Shelly’s poem, the religious theme manifests as he represents power as the wind accountable for direct change in the material world. There is connection of the wind to a spirit idea also unseen representing how the determinant of motion is not known via empiricism since it has both a literal link to Autumn and what it represents. In addition, although there lacks clarity on Biblical connection, there is little indication that the poem is linked to Psalms. The poem illudes to destructive powers of nature which is like the way the Judeo-Christian God works.
Similarly, religion and spiritual theme is depicted in Wordsworth poem. He talks about kids through characterizing them via spiritual and religious theme. He says that children see sunshine as a “glorious birth” in stanza one and the world as thou it was a “apparelled in celestial light” in stanza one. The use of the words “celestial” and “glory” infer that children are close to life’s spiritual aspects than grown humans are and hence have a different view about the world. They purely relate with nature and beings (Shelley). Critics also argue that the poet moves into an account of the nature forces that assisted him reconcile to the outer world and transform him to stability in adulthood and that the “soul that rises” is an precise picture of the birth process (Beer 111).
Reading both these poems together will help the reader better comprehend the deeper hidden meaning relayed by the two poets. The two apply a similar tone towards the natural world. When you closely examine the poems, you will find the connection since Wordsworth looks back at how life was since infancy, adolescence to the transition into adulthood. Shelley, on the other hand, wonders how it is after death and reincarnation. Therefore, reading the two will help the reader understand the cycle of human life since inception to eternity through the lens of nature.
In conclusion, it is evident from the above discussion that the two poems; “Ode to the West Wind” and “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” are more similar than we would think. The two poems echo the same message on appreciation of the natural world and speak on redemption of the human life. The learning point is that despite the poems being written in a different era, we can relate with the message conveyed in the poems and apply it in our modern times. As humans, we need to appreciate nature more and not forget the purpose of our existence right from childhood till after death. We ought to embrace life like a child and remain filled with happiness and pure emotions. The material world should not deprive us the appreciation of the beauty of natural world.
Beer, John. Wordsworth in Time. London and Boston: Faber and Faber, 1979. Web.
Horine, Clara. Shelley’s “Ode To The West Wind”. Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1931.
“Ode: Intimations of Immortality – Literary Devices and Poetic Devices”. Literary Devices, 2022, https://literarydevices.net/ode-intimations-of-immortality-from-recollections-of-early-childhood/
Shelley, Mary. “William Wordsworth, Ode: Intimations on Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood (1807).” Mary Shelley Wiki, https://mary-shelley.fandom.com/wiki/William_Wordsworth,_Ode:_Intimations_on_Immortality_from_Recollections_of_Early_Childhood_(1807)#Children_as_Religious_and_Spiritual_Beings.
Shelley, Percy Bysshe. The Sensitive Plant (And Ode To The West Wind). Edinburgh & London, 1906.
Wordsworth, William, and Thomas B Mosher. Intimations Of Immortality. [Publisher Not Identified], 1908.