Friday, January 24, 2020

The Path of Shelleys Winged Thoughts :: Writing Poetry Papers

The Path of Shelley's 'Winged Thoughts' Writing much of his poetry on the Continent, away from England where his readership lived, and dying only three years after the composition of much of his best work, Percy Bysshe Shelley had little control over the transmission of his poetry. At the time of its initial publication, â€Å"Ode to the West Wind† appeared as part of a larger volume, entitled Prometheus Unbound, also the name of its signature, featured poem which overshadowed â€Å"Ode to the West Wind.† Following Shelley’s untimely death, his wife, Mary Shelley, dedicated herself to organizing and publishing Shelley’s work, and is largely responsible for the transmission of Shelley’s work that occurred posthumously. Piecing together a publication and composition history is particularly befitting for Percy Bysshe Shelley’s â€Å"Ode to the West Wind,† for the theme of transmission of words and thoughts is interlaced conspicuously within the lines of the poem itself. In the final stanza of the poem, the poet beseeches the West Wind, a natural and divine life-force, to â€Å"Drive my dead thoughts over the universe/ Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!† (lines 63-64) Shelley continues to address transmission in the next tercet, writing â€Å"Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth,/ Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!† (lines 66-67). These imperatives contain Shelley’s lofty expectations for the dissemination of his words; however, when the actual path his words followed is studied, great disparity emerges between the ways in which Shelley envisioned his poem entering the world, and the way it actually reached an audience. While today â€Å"Ode to the West Wind† is widely known, and respected as one of Shelley’s best poems, during the few years the poem and poet lived simultaneously, Shelley’s visions for the transmission of â€Å"Ode to the West Wind† were limited, and boasted no divine intervention. Shelley’s notebooks and preserved manuscripts provide much information about the composition history behind ‘Ode to the West Wind.† In mid-October, 1819, Shelley walked along the river Arno, located near Florence, watched the autumn wind rustle and sweep the leaves strewn about the ground, and drew inspiration for the composition of â€Å"Ode to the West Wind.† Shelley’s own note included with the published version of the poem states, â€Å"This poem was conceived†¦one a day when that tempestuous wind, whose temperature is at once mild and animating, was collecting the vapours which pour down the autumnal rains.† (Wu, 859) His notebooks show the meticulous level of observation with which Shelley studied this scene; one page of preliminary notes contains a drawing of a

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