Month: April 2014

Song: to Celia [“Drink to me only with thine eyes”] vs. She Walks In Beauty

Song: to Celia [“Drink to me only with thine eyes”] by Ben Jonson

Drink to me only with thine eyes,

        And I will pledge with mine;

Or leave a kiss but in the cup,

        And I’ll not look for wine.

The thirst that from the soul doth rise

        Doth ask a drink divine;

But might I of Jove’s nectar sup,

        I would not change for thine.


I sent thee late a rosy wreath,

        Not so much honouring thee

As giving it a hope, that there

        It could not withered be.

But thou thereon didst only breathe,

        And sent’st it back to me;

Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,

        Not of itself, but thee.

She Walks In Beauty by Lord Byron (George Gordon)

She walks in beauty, like the night

  Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

  Meet in her aspect and her eyes;

Thus mellowed to that tender light

  Which heaven to gaudy day denies.


One shade the more, one ray the less,

  Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

  Or softly lightens o’er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express,

  How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.


And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,

  So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

  But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

  A heart whose love is innocent!




The topic of love and beauty are the linking factors of the poems above, and this entry will be a comparison of these two similar pieces. Both of these poems are widely renowned for its eloquence and evident emotion in the verses while possessing simplicity and purity despite using complex metaphors and symbolism. Similar to my previous entries, both of these poems were taken off a list provided by my English teacher.

‘Song: To Celia (Drink To Me With Only Thine Eyes)’ speaks of a woman, we can assume she is Celia according to the title, who is considered immortal and divine in the speaker’s eyes. Said speaker sends a wreath of flowers to this lover, in hopes that “it could not withered be”. However, the lover returns the wreath to the speaker, ruining his original plans but accomplishing his goal of allowing the wreath to live; the lover breathed on the wreath and made the wreath ‘immortal’ as well. As a result of her breath, the wreath made of plucked flowers and leaves was able to bloom, grow and flourish again. Although short, ‘Song: To Celia (Drink To Me With Only Thine Eyes)’ manages to give the reader a good idea of the speaker’s love and admiration for ‘Celia’. He compares her to something divine and immortal, and demonstrates her power with the making immortal of a wreath of dead plants. The speaker portrays ‘Celia’ as someone who is extremely desirable (ex. Lines 3-4: ‘Or leave a kiss but in the cup  | And I’ll not look for wine.’) and influential (ex. Lines 15-16: ‘Since when it grows, and smells, I swear, | Not of itself, but thee.’)– a seemingly perfect woman. This leads the reader to ponder whether this Celia is mortal or immortal; no such human has been known to possess such captivating charms as well as a magical ability to revive dead organisms.

‘She Walks In Beauty’ describes the beauty of an unnamed woman; the speaker compares this woman’s beauty to the night and the day, describes her face as pure and her heart good and innocent. It is evident in this piece that the speaker has a great affection for the woman, and uses a variety of poetic devices to express her beauty to the reader. Alliteration (ex. Line 2: “Of cloudless climes and starry skies’), contradiction (ex. Line 3: “And all that’s best of dark and bright”), personification (ex. Line 6: “ Which heaven to gaudy day denies.”) and more are eloquently interwoven throughout the piece for an easy reading and smoother flow. Gordon managed to paint a clear image of the woman in my mind, and I could imagine the beauty of this mysterious woman that he tells of.

These two poems are quite similar, in the way that both poets have constructed poems of another woman’s beauty. Both poems show evident affection and adoration for their respective woman, and both make use of metaphors, symbolism and other literary devices to describe the extent of the woman’s beauty to the reader. While ‘Song: To Celia (Drink To Me With Only Thine Eyes)’ compares ‘Celia’ to a divine and immortal creature to describe her elegance and power, ‘She Walks In Beauty’ uses the contrast between night and day to emphasize the woman’s magnificence and innocence. Both pieces effectively portray the image of a strong and independent woman whose possess a pure heart and a compelling presence.


The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy


I leant upon a coppice gate

     When Frost was spectre-grey,

And Winter’s dregs made desolate

     The weakening eye of day.

The tangled bine-stems scored the sky

     Like strings of broken lyres,

And all mankind that haunted nigh

     Had sought their household fires.


The land’s sharp features seemed to be

     The Century’s corpse outleant,

His crypt the cloudy canopy,

     The wind his death-lament.

The ancient pulse of germ and birth

     Was shrunken hard and dry,

And every spirit upon earth

     Seemed fervourless as I.


At once a voice arose among

     The bleak twigs overhead

In a full-hearted evensong

     Of joy illimited;

An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,

     In blast-beruffled plume,

Had chosen thus to fling his soul

     Upon the growing gloom.


So little cause for carolings

     Of such ecstatic sound

Was written on terrestrial things

     Afar or nigh around,

That I could think there trembled through

     His happy good-night air

Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew

     And I was unaware.




I discovered this poem out of a list provided by my English teacher, and decided to analyze it after skimming through the piece. ‘The Darkling Thrush’ is written with an Iambic rhyme scheme (ABABCDCD), resulting in a smooth flow and supporting the dreariness and gloominess of the piece. This poem interested me due to its unique content and captivating imagery, along with a complex title and mysterious hidden meanings incorporated in the verses

Let’s begin with the title– a ‘thrush’ is a type of bird and ‘darkling’ refers to growing darkness, implying that a bird of the dark will be significant in the piece. Through my interpretation, Hardy had written about a gloomy man, the speaker, who feels that happiness does not exist, until he hears the ‘ecstatic sound’ of a thrush and realizes that happiness and Hope actually exists, but he doesn’t know or care to find it. This thrush is described as beaten up and weak, but still manages to sing songs of joy and positivity, which baffles the speaker. We learn here that the speaker is capable of sensing and recognizing Hope, but Line 29: ‘That I could think there trembled through…’ suggests that the speaker could think positive thoughts, but consciously chooses not to and therefore, is unaware of this mysterious Hope.

The image that Hardy paints in my mind is similar to the setting of novels in 19th-20th century England, where graveyards and paranormal occurrences were popular themes, the weather was always dreary and gray and the general atmosphere was lifeless and depressing. Hardy capitalizes the words Frost, Winter, Century and Hope and addresses them with human characteristics (‘Century’s corpse’, ‘blessed Hope’ etc.), using the literary device of personification. There are also many examples of alliteration (ex. Line 11: ‘His crypt the cloudy canopy…’), similes (ex. Line 6: ‘Like strings of broken lyres…’) and more that Hardy uses to descriptively illustrate the setting of the poem.

I have a tremendous respect for Hardy for being able to paint such a vivid picture of England in my head. He was able to describe the depressive setting extremely well, and the small upturn of events with the thrush was communicated clearly as well. Although, I personally do not hold a connection to this poem, I was able to sympathize with the speaker and feel his dark emotions and negative thoughts while reading this piece, and this is a poem I would definitely recommend for everyone to enjoy.


The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service


There are strange things done in the midnight sun

     By the men who moil for gold;

The Arctic trails have their secret tales

     That would make your blood run cold;

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,

     But the queerest they ever did see

Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge

     I cremated Sam McGee.


Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.

Why he left his home in the South to roam ’round the Pole, God only knows.

He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;

Though he’d often say in his homely way that “he’d sooner live in hell.”


On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.

Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.

If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;

It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.


And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,

And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,

He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;

And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”


Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan:

“It’s the cursèd cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.

Yet ’tain’t being dead—it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;

So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”


A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;

And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.

He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;

And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.


There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,

With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;

It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,

But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate those last remains.”


Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.

In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.

In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,

Howled out their woes to the homeless snows— O God! how I loathed the thing.


And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;

And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;

The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;

And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.


Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;

It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.”

And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;

Then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”


Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;

Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;

The flames just soared, and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;

And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.


Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;

And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.

It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;

And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.


I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;

But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;

I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.

I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”; … then the door I opened wide.


And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;

And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.

It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—

Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”


There are strange things done in the midnight sun

     By the men who moil for gold;

The Arctic trails have their secret tales

     That would make your blood run cold;

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,

     But the queerest they ever did see

Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge

     I cremated Sam McGee.




I was first exposed to ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee’ in my Grade 7 year during art class, when my teacher told us to visualize and recreate the landscape of this poem. Ever since then, Service had imprinted his poem in my memory due to the brilliant descriptions and strange humor that is prevalent throughout the piece.. ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee’ is written in Iambic heptameter, with rhyming couplets and an internal rhyme within each verse.

The poem tells of two men who seek gold in the bitter Yukon weather. Sam, who the speaker is travelling with, knows he is about to die from the cold and makes the speaker promise to cremate his corpse as he cannot stand to be buried in the frozen ground. The speaker is forced to fulfill his promise and dutifully cremates his body. However, as the first stanza of the poem suggests, the speaker witnesses an extremely queer sight after cremating Sam as he discovers that Sam is alive and grinning inside the boiler that his body was cremated in.

The story is very strange, as stated in the poem itself (twice- at the beginning and again at the end), and the content can cause confusion to some readers. It tells of the integrity that the speaker has towards fulfilling his friend’s last promise, but the poem does not finish in the sense that it does not tell us how the speaker reacts to seeing the strange sight of his friend’s resurrection. Perhaps Service wanted the reader to react for themselves and imagine that they were in the speaker’s position– he ends the poem with a repeat of the first stanza to highlight how queer this event was.

My opinion is that the speaker’s mind was slowly deteriorating during his struggle to find a crematorium. In the piece itself, “And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.” shows that the speaker was even seeing Sam’s corpse grin, proving that perhaps extreme weather conditions and stress had affected the speaker’s mental abilities. The fact that the speaker saw Sam warming up in the boiler that was supposedly for cremating his body may have been a simple hallucination on the speaker’s part, due to exhaustion or a lack of grub.

I think Service was brilliant– he was able to craft such an eloquent piece that manages to tell a vivid story of the Klondike Gold Rush. The reader is able to physically feel the harshness of the Arctic wind and emotionally experiences the struggle that the speaker goes through to fulfil a friend’s last wish. Although the story itself is quite saddening, Service keeps it humorous and silly with a surprising plot twist at the end. I definitely understand why ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee’ is so well-known and agree with the fact that it is a classic poem suitable for all ages.

The Secret by Denise Levertov


Two girls discover   

the secret of life   

in a sudden line of   


I who don’t know the   

secret wrote   

the line. They   

told me


(through a third person)   

they had found it

but not what it was   

not even


what line it was. No doubt   

by now, more than a week   

later, they have forgotten   

the secret,


the line, the name of   

the poem. I love them   

for finding what   

I can’t find,


and for loving me   

for the line I wrote,   

and for forgetting it   

so that


a thousand times, till death   

finds them, they may   

discover it again, in other   



in other   

happenings. And for   

wanting to know it,   



assuming there is   

such a secret, yes,   

for that   

most of all.




I decided to analyze this poem as its’ title piqued my curiosity. After skimming through the poem, I was interested by the short verses and numerous stanzas, wondering how they could possibly come together to form a cohesive piece. In short, the vague title and unique shape of the piece compelled me to analyze ‘The Secret’.

The poem, told in first person, is about two girls who have discovered the secret to life through reading a line of poetry written by Levertov (assuming the ‘I’ in the poem is referring to Levertov). Levertov supposes that these girls forget this secret as time passes, assuming there is a secret in the first place, as well as the source of discovery, and explains her strong affection for these girls due a variety of reasons. In my opinion, this poem is extremely vague. While it may seem like Levertov is simply relaying a story about two girls who discover a mysterious ‘secret’,  there are many possible hidden metaphors that Levertov may have interwoven into this piece. For example, the two girls could very possibly have been symbolized humankind, and the ‘secret’ may represent the meaning or purpose behind our existence. After all, it is true that human nature is constantly seeking reasons to live, and finding inspiration for this solution from anywhere. However, human nature tends forgets the inspiration quickly, and needs to search for new inspiration and a new purpose for existence after the passage of time.

I believe the piece was intentionally written to be as vague as possible– Levertov might have wanted the reader to formulate their own opinion on ‘The Secret’. Perhaps the meaning of this piece is a secret that Levertov wanted the reader to solve on their own, and the curious formatting of the poem is a secret code to the solution. Perhaps there is no true meaning to the piece– as readers, we should not always rely on the poet to reveal the meaning behind their poetry. Lines 30-36 of ‘The Secret’ ( “[I love them] …for | wanting to know it, | for | assuming there is | such a secret, yes, | for that | most of all.” ) perhaps hinting that Levertov wants the reader to assume and seek the meaning of the piece, which may be the secret that she refers to in the piece. Nonetheless, Levertov was extremely clever to include so many examples of symbolism into this unique piece of poetry, stimulating the reader’s imagination and forcing them to create images and stories of their own.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night vs. Death Be Not Proud

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


And you, my father, there on that sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Death Be Not Proud by John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.




Rather than an analysis of one poem, this entry will be a comparison between two related poems. Evidently, the connection between the two poems listed above is the topic of death, however each poet has a different perspective on this issue that are displayed in their respective poems. Their different views will be addressed and discussed further in this post. I discovered both of these poems from a list provided by my English teacher, and I decided to analyze these poems as they are widely recognized.

To summarize Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, I believe Thomas was persuading the audience to not sucuumb to death, used interchangeably with darkness, and one must ‘burn and rave’ against it. The majority of the poem was addressed towards the general audience– it is only in the last stanza of this piece that he addresses his own father, when we finally understand that Thomas composed this piece mainly for personal reasons. He suggests that men cannot peacefully pass away if “Their words had forked no lightning” and “Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay”. Simply, Thomas believes that unless man has made a difference to the world, they have not fulfilled the meaning behind their existence and must “rage against the dying of the light” to do so.

On the other hand, Donne’s ‘Death Be Not Proud’ is a fourteen-line sonnet with a modified Petrarchan rhyme scheme that possesses a condescending perspective on Death, claiming it is worthless, weak and a fraud. Contrary to Thomas’s view of death, Donne sees death as nothing more than sleeping or resting, something that brings pleasure and is finite. He tries to convince the reader of the powerlessness of Death, that it is weak and dependent upon factors such as Fate or Chance, and that drugs can provide just as pleasurable of rest as Death can. Personification and apostrophe are used consistently throughout the piece– Death, along with other intangible objects, are give human-like characteristics and are addressed directly as if they were living objects. Donne also utilizes numerous contradictory statements in this piece, for example, Line 4: ‘Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me’ contradicts Line 14 ‘And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die’.

The contrasting viewpoints of the two poems are evident– while Thomas believes that death is something that one should fight against, Donne believes that Death provides nothing more than pleasure for the human soul. Thomas portrays death as strong and difficult to fight against, Donne persuades the reader that Death is weak and wrongfully proud. Thomas sees death as a state of being while Death is a live thing according to Donne. Neither opinion on death is wholly correct or incorrect– even today, we have yet to find an accurate description of death. There have been many philosophies on death– afterlife, eternal rest, Heaven and Hell etc.– and these two poems merely portray two different theories on the same topic. I don’t have any personal connection with either of these poems as I have yet to encounter death in my lifetime, but I have learned how horrid death is since Thomas was inspired to compose such a powerful poem because of his father’s death. In conclusion, although ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ and ‘Death Be Not Proud’ may seem like two similar poems at first due to a mutual theme, each poet’s view and portrayal of the topic contrast greatly with each other and it is extremely discernible through an analysis of both pieces.

The Clock Man by Shel Silverstein


“How much will you pay for an extra day?”

The clock man asked the child.

“Not one penny,” the answer came,

“For my days are as many as smiles.”


“How much will you pay for an extra day?”

He asked when the child was grown.

“Maybe a dollar or maybe less,

For I’ve plenty of days of my own.”


“How much will you pay for an extra day?”

He asked when the time came to die.

“All of the pearls in all of the seas,

And all of the stars in the sky.”




The Clock Man, written by Shel Silverstein, is a poem with a moral– it teaches the readers an important life lesson.

I first discovered this poem after flipping through a collection of Shel Silverstein’s poems, titled Everything On It, and this piece remained ingrained in my memory ever since. Silverstein’s work is interesting because while he conveys humor in his pieces, he manages to incorporates a moral or a reason for his poetry that teach readers important life lessons. I respect him for his talent in crafting beautiful and meaningful pieces while maintaining a light-hearted atmosphere that demand audience interest.

Undoubtedly, the moral of this piece was along the lines of ‘Enjoy and cherish every second of your life.’ I could not agree more with this important lesson– time, once spent, cannot be regained. To have the ability to utilize each second wisely and thoughtfully is a lifelong skill that humankind has yet to master, and it is only with this skill that humans can live happily without regrets.

Silverstein portrays the indifference of children and adults towards death, fooled by the belief that they have an unlimited amount of days to live, seemingly unconcerned with their impending future. Silverstein argues that this is an unwise method of thinking, and will lead to regrets and unhappiness later in life. He suggests that we should start appreciating the value of life and the beauty of our existence from a tender age, living every moment to its fullest as to relieve the burden of regrets in the future.

Personally, this poem acted as a wake-up call. I admit to have the same thinking as the ‘child [that] was grown’ in the poem, in which I would pay ‘a dollar or maybe less, for I’ve plenty of days of my own.’ After reading this poem, I took some time and reflected on my life– am I doing everything I can to make the most out of the time I have? Am I going to leave this world filled with regrets, or am I going to leave knowing I had done something worthy? I realized the importance of each second in life, and that we really don’t have as much time as we believe– life is fragile and can easily be stolen at any moment. There really is no time for hesitation in our short lifespan; when an opportunity arises, we should pounce on it. Otherwise, regret will be a heavy burden one may carry on their shoulders and hinder later life experiences.

Easter Wings by George Herbert


Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,

     Though foolishly he lost the same,

           Decaying more and more,

                 Till he became

                       Most poore:

                       With thee

                 O let me rise

           As larks, harmoniously,

     And sing this day thy victories:

Then shall the fall further the flight in me.


My tender age in sorrow did beginne:

     And still with sicknesses and shame.

           Thou didst so punish sinne,

                 That I became

                       Most thinne.

                       With thee

                 Let me combine,

           And feel thy victorie:

        For, if I imp my wing on thine,

Affliction shall advance the flight in me.




Easter Wings is a shape poem written by George Herbert filled with different metaphors and examples of imagery. One obvious characteristic that is easily noticed is the fact that the verses shrink and expand– Herbert cleverly accomplishes this by decreasing or increasing each consecutive verse by two syllables (10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10). In this piece, you will find the use of alliteration, assonance and references to God and religion.

Easter Wings appealed to me for a variety of reasons. Admittedly, the title captured my attention the most as it aroused my curiosity regarding the poem’s content. I was also interested about the physical layout of the poem– this poem is a shape poem, in which the piece itself forms a shape that is relevant to the content of the poem. At first, Easter Wings seems to be in the shape of two vertical hourglasses, but after reading the content, I realized that Herbert was trying to portray a pair of wings, which is evident when the poem is turned horizontally.

Although I am not Christian and have limited knowledge on the Bible, Herbert managed to portray the meaning of his poem in a way that even I could understand. The first stanza starts off in a solemn manner, stating that the Lord created humankind and provided them with a great abundance of resources, freedom and pleasure. However, man gambled all of these pleasures away, and the depressive atmosphere of the piece is reflected by the physical shape of the poem itself as verses became shorter and more terse. As the content of the poem brightens up, the length of the verses grow longer as well.

The latter half of the piece also begins with a serious tone of voice, in which the speaker is relaying the sorrows and sufferings of humankind– this is reflected in the physical appearance of the poem. The speaker then asks for God’s aid, seeking to ‘imp my wing on thine’, with the belief that it will relieve him of all his sins and wrongdoings and allow him to progress and connect with God on a spiritual level. The shape of the piece lengthens according to the general mood of the content.

It is in the first stanza that the audience will understand the meaning behind the title, Easter Wings. The verses “With thee | O let me rise” is directly related to Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is perhaps where the title stems from. Birds are brought up in both stanzas, which may be the reason behind the title, and it may also be the fact that the atmosphere of the piece rises and falls, similar to the beating of a bird’s wings.

This poem was quite challenging for me to decipher and fully understand at first, but with some research and dictionary searches, Herbert’s choice of vocabulary became clear. I didn’t find myself connecting with this poem– it may have partially been due to a lack of full understanding of the content. I felt like I didn’t know how to fully appreciate this piece due to my neutral religious background. Nonetheless, I respect Herbert immensely for his ability to construct such a lyrical and symbolic poem while incorporating so many different literary elements in addition to maintaining the overall shape of the piece itself.

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.




The Cloud is a metaphoric poem filled with many examples of imagery, conveying clear pictures to the reader. Rather than speaking of clouds directly, Shelley sees clouds as something divine and ‘higher up’, giving it human-like characteristics with immortal powers.

I discovered this poem, frankly, due to a title that piqued my curiosity; I didn’t even know who the author was until further research. The Cloud interested me as it sounded like a poem filled with interesting content and imagery, and I wasn’t wrong. Shelley does a wonderful job of painting the various forms of precipitation that a cloud undergoes (mist, rain, hail, snow etc.) in the reader’s head– from the tranquility that morning dew and light showers bring, to the agitation that lightning and thunderstorms carry forth. I was interested and curious about the different types of poetic/literary devices that the author would use to describe clouds, and hoped to incorporate this in my future compositions.

This poem changed my perspective on nature and made me see it in a different light. For example, prior to reading this poem, rainy and cloudy days were something I found bothersome, excessive and quite annoying. However, through this poem, Shelley introduced a different perspective on this topic and my appreciation for this inevitable course of nature grew immensely. I came to see gloomy days in another light and saw the real beauty of nature. I understood Shelley’s point of view through reading his poem and it influenced my opinion of our natural environment as well.

The biggest piece of insight I gained from reading this piece lies in the fact that it is possible to craft a beautiful piece of poetry based on such a simple, everyday object. How often do we stop and ponder life from a clouds perspective? How often do we take the time to admire rain, snowstorms, hail and fog? Shelley proved that good poems do not necessarily have to be based on an abstract or popular theme; something so simple as a cloud can produce an effective poem as well.

As someone who enjoys spending time outdoors, clouds are definitely an object of admiration and beauty. Shelley has captured the image of clouds beautifully in his poem, interweaving personification and imagery (ex. Line 13: I sift snow on the mountains below….) to craft a beautiful piece from the point of view of a cloud. In my opinion, this piece is beautifully descriptive and has a smooth flow that appeals to the reader, using similes and metaphors (ex. Line 57: Like strips of the sky falling through me on high…)


Line 77 – 84

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.

This is perhaps my most favorite portion of this piece. The metaphors that he uses describe clouds so realistically and beautifully- for example, “Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb…” paints a vivid picture of the elegance and mysticality of clouds.

In general, I really enjoyed this piece. In fact, I was personally inspired by this piece to see things from a different perspective, even if that perspective is mythical, to realize that everything has its own beauty that is simply waiting to be recognized. Shelley’s masterpiece has influenced my opinion on clouds and nature, and has likely inspired many others in the same way.