‘If winter comes, can spring be far behind’ is a very prevalent quotation which is quoted very often by the persons who are dejected and who are grief stricken. It tells us that we must remember that every cloud has a silver living; that day is sure to down if night comes; that misery is a blessing in disguise. Hence we should not be down hearted and do our work holdly.

This line is the best line of the poem ‘Ode to the West Wind’ composed by Shelley, idealist and mad Shelley. Shelley, who was pessimistic throughout his life was one of the most prominent romantic poets. He was very sad to see the monotony and the adversity present in the world. He wept throughout his life but here in this line that If winter comes, can spring be far behind’ he gets the consolation and hope that a time must come when he will get pleasure,

Ode to the West Wind’ is a fine comparison of the poet him self to the forest in the autumn, when the tree are about to become seemingly dead during the dark, dreary and bitter winter season. Shelley was an intellectual idealist and could never be interested in only appreciation of beauty of nature. It was the abstract beauty of nature that inspired him. He was drawn towards the spirit that pervaded nature, the abstract ideal beauty which laid behind all the objects that appeared before his eyes. Shelley was a beautiful and ineffectual beauty angel with his luminous wings in the void in vain’. We get for him these qualities in ‘Ode to the West Wind’. He wishes that his heart should be saturated with the vehement nature of the biting wind. But he is also conscious of the fact that after winter, spring will also come soon.

Its symbolic significance

This idea which is hidden in this quotation has some symbolic significance. The poet stands for the dejected and desperate human beings. While the bitter western wind which appears devastating, stands for hope in a different manner, he was to develop a contact with the forests whose trees have shed their leaves because he hopes that his life which is on the decline will be softened there, compares his ideas to the dry leaves of an autumnal tree of the forest which by burying and fertilizing the seeds help in producing a new life in spring. In this way the tumultuous wind broadcasts all over the earth the message of hope. This hope will give birth to the new bright impulses which lie hidden in humanity. These impulses blossom forth into beautiful and noble actions. So he requests ardently and passionately the western wind in the autumn to give the message of hope and optimism to the grief and terror stricken people of the world. This will excite the throbbing pulse of vitality among the people and they will get up and work hoping that the spring of their life will bloom soon. He hopes that humanity is not completely dead. It has some flickering vigor and it needs only a gush of new hope to blow up and to light the death flame of vitality. Winter is here to destroy but it is sure to be followed by spring when the destiny of men will shine perfectly.

It is a call of optimism

Shelley was a pessimist throughout his life but as he was an idealist and reformer, sometimes he was full of optimism also. This line, If winter comes, can spring be far behind” is the call of the forced optimism, People were degenerated and degraded on account of the tyrannical attitude of the monarch. The people were almost crushed under the heavy weight of the trouble some oppression of the tyrants. When Shelley uttered this line the whole of Europe was full of bloodshed, ruin and plunder. It was the second phase of the French Revolution. At that time most of the saints and thinkers were of the opinion that the European civilization in general was in danger and almost breaking. At that time some of the idealists came forward and consoled the people saying that out of tyranny a new culture would come out. A horizon of new hope would break out and people would enjoy liberty and equality.

Shelley was a great reformer. He was totally against the power of kings and churches and wanted to reform the whole world according to his way. He came forward and heralded the people to hear-If winter comes, can spring be far behind’. It was his belief that the bloodshed, tyranny and destruction were for the new civilization in disguise. The civilization was stagnant, the society was inactive and groaning under the pressure of monarchy. He found out the rich store of optimism for the oppressed people of that time. He saw that the west wind was blowing bitterly in the winter and be-causing the leaves of the trees to fall but he also found out that the winter was soon to be over and to be followed by the spring season. Then there would be greenery and pleasurable fragrance everywhere. In this way, he conceived the people that they would enjoy liberty and equality.


Shelley is absolutely correct to sing this immortal and life-giving line. The condition of the people at present is miserable. People are over-ridden by false conventions and artificiality of society. But we must hope that a time will come when this world and society will we completely changed. There is spiritual, social and economic crisis at this but these things will be swept over soon and the bankruptcy of civilization will be made good. The worst period of the society or of a particular man is surely to be followed by bright days. The days of miseries and troubles, frustration, degradation and dejection will not continue for long. The bright period is sure to follow such a melancholy period. We should never be disheartened by the degradation and destruction. If it is right, the sun is sure to rise with the ground light giving life to all.


So we may say boldly that “If winter comes, can spring be far behind” is very significant particularly at the time of chaos and crisis. Some people are very pessimistic even in 20th century, but they should give up their pessimism and believe in the teaching of Shelley. All the people must sing together, “It winter comes, can spring be far behind” and fill this world with the pleasurable fragrance of the flowering optimism.

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