Percy Shelley: Poems

Depictions of Autumn in the Romantic Period College

Much of the literary work that sprung out of the Romantic period centered around images of nature and the strong emotions that these evoked; the works of John Keats and of Percy Bysshe Shelley are no exception. Both written in 1819 and published in 1820, both Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind” and John Keats’ “To Autumn” offer elaborate and emotionally charged images of the fall through odes that center around the use of apostrophe. However, the similarities shared by these two poems are far outweighed by their differences; “Ode to the West Wind” and “To Autumn” differ vastly both in tone and in their overall message. Where Keats celebrates the coming of autumn, framing his presentation of the season with ideas of life and prosperity, Shelley laments it, viewing fall not as a beginning in itself, but as the bitter end to spring. In these poems, both of which describe autumn or aspects of it, fall is presented in two vastly different lights—in one, as a bringer of life, and in the other, as a symbol of death.

Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind,” which is addressed to a wind that is described in the poem’s opening line as being the “breath of Autumn’s being” (line 1), is characterized from beginning to end by a tone...

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