Clouds

“The Cloud” by Percy Shelley is one of my all-time favorite poems. Partly because of its sound. Just read the opening lines aloud:

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. (1-4)

Not only do the second and fourth lines rhyme, the vowel sounds repeat within lines (the “ow” and “ea”), as do the consonants (the “sh” and “s”).

For you English majors, it’s called assonance and consonance.

The poet even manages to create the sounds of a thunderstorm. Listen.

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. (9-12)

Can you hear the hail? (Can you say onomatopoeia?)

But, mostly, I like Shelley’s poem because of its subject.

Clouds. I’m looking at some as I write this piece. And I’m thinking that clouds are themselves words in God’s great poem. Words, like Shelley’s, endowed with both beauty and power.

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