Percy Bysshe Shelley composed this ode, written to celebrate the majesty and the power of the west wind, in October 20th 1819, while he was alone in touch with nature, in the wood on the bank of the Arno, near Florence.
This poem, that we can consider like a prayer towards the wind that according to the pantheism, represents God, can be divided in fifth parts.
In the first part: the poet describes the effects of the wind on earth.
The poet begins, introducing the personified wind (it is possible to understand because it is written with the capital letter) as the autumn's breath, and describing it as a wild being because it blows where it wants uncontrolled and impetuous, in this case the wind, an invisible presence, that is, abstract, is blowing on the branches of the trees, shaking the dead leaves, that seem to dance for air until reaching the road, here we find a metaphor, the dead leaves compared to a crowd of corpses, victim of a pestilence, are recalled by a player from life to death, so we could define the wind as a destroyer, but, going on to the reading, as the poet says, at the same time the wind leds the seeds to their wintry beds preserving them, until the azure spring, sister of the autumn, will play its clarion filling the hills and the vales of perfumes and vivid colours, waking up the seeds from their sleep, so them will give origin to new lives, new plants. At the end we can deduce that the wind involves both from destroyer and from preserver, because, if in a first time, in autumn it brings to the death of the leaves, in a second time, in spring it brings them to the life [In this part we can make a comparison between Gray and Shelley’s concept of tomb, because according to Gray tomb was eternal, while for Shelley tomb is only the wintry bed, a (in inverted coma) “transitional bed”].
In the second part: the poet describes the effects of the wind in sky.
The poet describes a dark sky that preannounces a storm because, is subject to the wind's strength, so the poet uses a metaphor for explaining how the clouds submitted to the wind, are pushed here and there by the sky and the ocean, comparing the clouds to the leaves shocked by the trees that weave their branches that, are compared to the sky and to the ocean; then the poet, great classicist, makes a reference to the greek mythology, for explaining the phenomenon of the storm and of the rain, saying that rain is formed by the hair of the angels that are loosing energy, and by the hair of some menade whose are took by the hair. Besides all these natural elements, are considered by the poet as locks of an approaching storm. During the storm, the poet sees a funeral monument (sepulchre) formed by the sky as chapel and from which explode ash and hail and in which is buried the dying year represented by the autumn (we can make a difference from Gray and Shelley’s tomb, because Gray’s tomb is really poor and ugly because in death aren’t important richness, beauty and so on, in contrast to Shelley’s tomb that is a beautiful sepulchre).
In the third part: the poet describes the effects of the wind on the Mediterranean sea, and on the Atlantic ocean.
At the beginning, the poet starts, dealing the effects of the wind on the mediterranean sea, saying that this, being a closed sea, it lies lulled in its summer calm until the wind don't awake it, shaking it and provoking light blue or white waves.
Then, the poet describes the effects of the wind on the Atlantic ocean, which being an open sea, it will produce different effects from the Mediterranean sea, in fact, the ocean subdued to the wind it will become dyed of grey, opening a path and so revealing (disclosing) the deep, secret abysses in which the hidden leaves are without sap, the algae, that hearing the voice (the puff) of the wind warn the arrival of the autumn scared despoil themselves.
In the fourth part: The poet says that he would like to be as a faded leaf, a cloud or a wave so he could share the wind’s strength, though he remains less free than it. The poet continues, stating that he would like to return to his boyhood, when everything seemed so easy, so like the wind that didn't seem a so powerful entity, in this way the poet shouldn't turn in this prayer to the wind, but he is forced to do it because he is fallen on the "thorns of life", with this metaphor the poet, compares the thorns to the pains and the miseries of the life, which are so heavy that even the indomitable wind could be bent and chained by these problems.
In the fifth part: the poet says that he would like to be as a lyre to be able to play the pains and the melancholy of a spoilt hood that the poet compares to his life, so praying to receive the strength to do what he is incapable to do, the wind become the poet's spirit. The poet continues his prayer, asking to the wind to transport his dead thougths for the universe to give origin to new lives, as if his words were the sparks and the ashes of a hearth that easily spread. The poet finally concludes, making himself the spokesman of a prophecy, which foresees that after a dark period as the winter, must be necessarily near a happy and florid period as the spring, so the poet with this prophecy means to tell to the men to be more hopeful respect to a best future that it will arrive soon.