Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Cloud

“I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and streams,
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams….”

You must have guessed by now who that “I” is. And, your guess is correct. The “I” being referred to is the Cloud. The above two lines have been taken from the poem “The Cloud”, written by Percy Bysshe Shelly. It is like an autobiography of a cloud.

The poem starts off by talking about what the Cloud does for the flowers and leaves and sweet buds of the earth. In the second stanza, the Cloud talks about one of its experiences. The Cloud says that it was trapped on top of a tower like the princess of a fairy tale. Then, the lightning came to rescue it just like a prince. The Cloud then escaped with the prince. The Cloud went with the lightning in search of the lightning’s love. The poet has imagined a genii as the lightning’s love. The lightning doesn’t know where the genii is. But, it goes in search of its love “over the rills and the crags, and the hills, over the lakes and the plains…” So, Shelly has made a very beautiful comparison with a fairy tale here.

In the third stanza, we look at the sunrise and sunset through the eyes of the Cloud. “The sanguine Sunrise” is compared to a bird. The golden rays of the sun are like the outspread wings of a bird. The Cloud acts like a ship during sunrise and as the ship floats in the sky, the sun leaps onto its deck. During sunset, as the sky turns crimson, the Cloud rests peacefully in the sky. At this moment, the Cloud is like a dove resting peacefully in its nest.

We also see the beauty of the moon through the Cloud’s eyes. The moon has been picturized as a maiden who makes a rent in the roof of the Cloud. As this rent widens, the reflection of the stars fall on the rivers, lakes and seas . It seems as though these reflections are like “strips of sky” and the water bodies are paved with them.

In the next stanza, Shelly makes another extraordinary comparison. He says that the storm is like a war. In this war, the Cloud is the king and the rivals are hurricane, fire and snow. But, at the end of the storm or the war, the Cloud is victorious. Just as the captives are chained to the throne of the king after a war, hurricane, fire and snow are chained to the Cloud’s throne here. The victorious king also marches through an arch. Here, the “million-coloured bow” acts as the arch for the Cloud.

But, I think that the best part of the poem is the last stanza. The Cloud says that after a shower, the sky is absolutely clear. It is not present in the sky anymore. Therefore, for the mortals, it is dead. The sunbeams build up a blue dome in the sky. This blue dome marks the end of the Cloud and serves as its cenotaph. But, the Cloud has a different opinion.
“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.”
This is what it says. Obviously, the Cloud can never die. It can change its form and be in the liquid or in the condensed state, but it can never die. It will move on with its existence and that, I think, is the most touching part of this beautiful poem.


Woodsmoke said...

Excellent work. This is one of my all time favorite poems too. I fell in love with it when I was twelve or so I think.
In a post like this, I would have liked to see at least one more paragraph, towards the beginning, telling us why you chose to pick this poem in the first place.

Titash RC said...

Since your exams are near, nice to read a critical appreciation of a poem by Shelley. My favourite however was Ozymandias but I loved your perception of the poet's imagination...

Hope this post help you in your preparation for ICSE.

Chitrangada said...

Lovely Poem :)
It's amazing to see that a lil sweet girl like you understand poet's wrd so beatifuly :)
Best of luck for exam dearie ..:)

Butterfly said...

Sorry for making a terrible spelling mistake. I wrote "Shelly" instead of writing "Shelley".

Well, I chose this poem because I like it. I like the amount of imaginaion that the poet has used.
But, u r right. I shud have added one paragraph at the beginning.

Oh Yes, Ozymandias is really beautiful.
I didn't write this post for prepearing for my studies. But, after writing it, I feel that I know the poem much better. So, u r right. It has helped me prepare for ICSE.:-)

@Deepti Di
Selection exam is exactly a month away.