Ode to the West Wind
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Ode to the West Wind Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (line)
A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud. (55-56)
The speaker describes himself as "too like" the West Wind – that is, he’s too much like a wild natural power, instead of an adaptable human being. Notice that this is basically bragging: he’s saying "I’m so quick and proud and larger-than-life, I’m not like a person at all, more a force of Nature!" He’s glad to be somewhat inhuman.
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own! (57-58)
The speaker positions himself between two comparisons to the natural world here. First, he suggests that he – or at least his mind – is like an autumn forest, where the leaves are falling and everything is decaying. But then he suggests that another force of nature, the West Wind, could turn him into its instrument and use him to create beautiful art.
Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one! (61-62)
Here the speaker demands complete unity between himself and the West Wind, between man and the natural world; but the difference between a human "spirit" and Nature’s "Spirit" is more than just a matter of one capital letter.