Monday, April 06, 2009

Shelley's "The Cloud"

The Cloud
By P.B. Shelley

Text: http://www.english.upenn.edu/Projects/knarf/PShelley/cloud.html


Shelley's poem "The Cloud" is told from the point of view of the cloud. The cloud, aware of his powerful and immortal position, revels in his abilities to control the weather. The cloud is haughty and proud of his capabilities of effecting the sun, moon, and the sea.

Percy Shelley was very interested in the developing field of natural science that was blooming during his lifetime in the late 17th/early 18th Centuries. Shelley was vastly fascinated by the progression of science during this time, which included giant steps in the study of biology and chemistry. This interest shows up in the poem. Shelley has the cloud describe such natural processes as storms, the water cycle, and precipitation.

However, the poem is also figurative. It is a narrative description of the sublime from the point of view of the sublime. Instead of just discussing and admiring the sublime like most Romantic poets, Shelley actually tries to speak as the sublime. In doing so, he seems to think sublime entities are aware of their sublimity. Being concerned with science, he seems to be breaking down sublime beings and taking away some of their awe as well.

The poem is also interesting because it makes hydrologic cycle poetic.


-B.E.

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