by: Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822)

      WILD West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
      Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
      Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
      Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
      Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
      Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
      The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
      Each like a corpse within its grave, until
      Thine azure sister of the spring shall blow
      Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
      (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
      With living hues and odors plain and hill:
      Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
      Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear!
      Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,
      Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed,
      Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,
      Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
      On the blue surface of thine airy surge,
      Like the bright hair uplifted from the head
      Of some fierce Mænad, even from the dim verge
      Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
      The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge
      Of the dying year, to which this closing night
      Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
      Vaulted with all thy congregated might
      Of vapors, from whose solid atmosphere
      Black rain, and fire, and hail, will burst: oh hear!
      Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
      The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
      Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams,
      Beside a pumice isle in Baiæ's bay,
      And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
      Quivering within the wave's intenser day,
      All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
      So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
      For whose path the Atlantic's level powers
      Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
      The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
      The sapless foliage of the ocean, know
      Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
      And tremble and despoil themselves: oh, hear!
      If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
      If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
      A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share
      The impulse of thy strength, only less free
      Than thou, O uncontrollable! if even
      I were as in my boyhood, and could be
      The comrade of thy wanderings over heaven,
      As then, when to outstrip thy skyey speed
      Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne'er have striven
      As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
      Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
      I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
      A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
      One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.
      Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is;
      What if my leaves are falling like its own!
      The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
      Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
      Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
      My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
      Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
      Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
      And, by the incantation of this verse,
      Scatter, as from an extinguished hearth
      Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
      Be through my lips to unwakened earth
      The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
      If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

'Ode to the West Wind' is reprinted from English Poems. Ed. Edward Chauncey Baldwin. New York: American Book Company, 1908.




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