Shelley’s Cloud

After two days of cloudy skies and heavy rain, it was nice to have a bright sunny day for the Thanksgiving holiday here in New York City.

This quick turnaround in the weather reminded me of a piece of poetry that I recently came across.  The poem is called The Cloud and was written by Percy Shelley in 1820.  It uses the weather as a metaphor, but highlights the fact that the atmosphere is in a continuous state of change.  Clouds, visual indicators of atmospheric activity, are diverse in their forms and functions, but are nonetheless ephemeral phenomena.  A cumulus cloud, for example, usually only lasts  between five and forty minutes, depending on the wind and other environmental conditions.  Enjoy the poem.

Below is the final verse of the six stanza poem:

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.

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About Melissa Fleming

Melissa Fleming is an environmental communicator and visual artist working at the intersection of art and science. She is passionate about exploring, learning, and sharing information about the natural world. She has presented her interdisciplinary work in a variety of mediums at venues and conferences around the world.