The Cloud

The Cloud

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.

I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast;
And all the night ‘tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers,
Lightning my pilot sits;
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
It struggles and howls at fits;
Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The Spirit he loves remains;
And I all the while bask in Heaven’s blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.

The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
And his burning plumes outspread,
Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,
When the morning star shines dead;
As on the jag of a mountain crag,
Which an earthquake rocks and swings,
An eagle alit one moment may sit
In the light of its golden wings.
And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath,
Its ardours of rest and of love,
And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of Heaven above,
With wings folded I rest, on mine aëry nest,
As still as a brooding dove.

That orbèd maiden with white fire laden,
Whom mortals call the Moon,
Glides glimmering o’er my fleece-like floor,
By the midnight breezes strewn;
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear,
May have broken the woof of my tent’s thin roof,
The stars peep behind her and peer;
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
Like a swarm of golden bees,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,
Till calm the rivers, lakes, and seas,
Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,
Are each paved with the moon and these.

I bind the Sun’s throne with a burning zone,
And the Moon’s with a girdle of pearl;
The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim,
When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl.
From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,
Over a torrent sea,
Sunbeam-proof, I hang like a roof,
The mountains its columns be.
The triumphal arch through which I march
With hurricane, fire, and snow,
When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair,
Is the million-coloured bow;
The sphere-fire above its soft colours wove,
While the moist Earth was laughing below.

I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again.

Summary of The Cloud

  • Popularity of the Poem, “The Cloud”: The poem was written by P. B. Shelley, one of the greatest romantic poets. ‘The Cloud’ is written about the wonders of nature and its connection to life. It was first published on the 12th of July in 1820. The poem reflects the dynamics of nature. It illustrates the water cycle, changing the nature of time and its impacts on life.
  • “The Cloud” As a Representative of Cyclic Pattern of Nature: This poem is an expression of wonder. The poet explains how a cloud binds and connects other elements present in nature. It brings hail, snow, rain, moisture and provides shade. Sometimes, it acts as a bird when it shakes its wet wings over the buds, while sometimes, it gets furious when it comes as thunder and lightning. However, at night, lightning acts as a powerful agent. The cloud helps him a lot when it sparks over the mountain and the plains, over the oceans and lake and mountain tops covered with snow.
    Also, the sun appears at the back of the cloud as if the eagle is sitting for some time at the edge of the rock. At sunset, unlike other entities present in nature, the cloud also stops its journey and loses itself in meditation. The poet reflects on more imaginative interpretations of nature such as the moon, stars, river, mountains, and lakes. The speaker explains various aspects of the cloud how it changes its forms and functions but never dies. Sometimes, when the sun shines with full vigor, the cloud laughs at his own demise, but after some time, it reappears and starts performing its duties again.
  • Major Themes in “The Cloud”: Natural beauty, mortality, and joy are the major themes of this poem. Throughout the poem, he personifies a cloud that acts as a mother to the earth, a nurse to the plants and then flies under the sky like bees. The poet beautifully presents natural objects as a community that acts in asymmetry to bring rain, thunder, hail, and snow on the earth. On a deeper level, the poet compares the cloud with human life which is constantly changing and recycling.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The Cloud”

Literary devices are tools the writers use to present their idea, feelings, and emotions and turn to make the text appealing to the readers. Percy Bysshe Shelley has also used some literary devices in this poem to make it appealing. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been listed below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /uh/ in “Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion” and the sound of /ei/ in “And their great pines groan aghast”.
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /s/ in “The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes” and the sounds of /g/ and /f/ in “Glides glimmering o’er my fleece-like floor” and the sound of /ch/ in “When the Powers of the air are chained to my chair”.
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /l/ in “I wield the flail of the lashing hail” and the sound of /n/ in “I bind the Sun’s throne with a burning zone.”
  4. Enjambment: It is a verse that does not come to an end in the same line, but continues in the next line. For example;

“I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.”

  1. Hyperbole: Hyperbole is a device used to exaggerate a statement for the sake of emphasis. For example, in Line 50, “Which only the angels hear” is exaggerated as if the heavenly creatures can hear the lightning and thunders in the sky.
  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Glides glimmering o’er my fleece-like floor”, “I bind the Sun’s throne with a burning zone “and “The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim.”
  3. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. The cloud is personified throughout the poem. For example, “I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers”, “I am the daughter of Earth and Water” and “I silently laugh at my own cenotaph.”
  4. Simile: It is a device used to compare an object or a person with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. For example, “As still as a brooding dove”, “Like a swarm of golden bees” and “Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “The Cloud”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are six stanzas in this poem with each having different verses in it.
  2. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free verse poem with no strict rhyme or meter.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful while talking about the unparalleled beauty of nature.

The sanguine Sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
And his burning plumes outspread,
Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,
When the morning star shines dead;
As on the jag of a mountain crag,
Which an earthquake rocks and swings,
An eagle alit one moment may sit
In the light of its golden wings.”