What happens when the cloud acts like a bird with wings?

Quick answer:

The cloud describes itself as acting like a bird shaking raindrops from its wings to bring forth the buds. The cloud also says that it folds its wings when it rests and sits still like a “brooding dove.”

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Percy Bysshe Shelley's delightful poem “The Cloud” paints a vivid portrait of the life and activities of a cloud, told in the cloud's own voice. In the first stanza, the cloud says, “From my wings are shaken the dews that waken / The sweet buds every one.” In other words, the cloud compares itself to a bird with wings, and from those wings fall rain drops down on the earth to bring forth the buds of spring.

In the third stanza, the cloud speaks of the sunset that falls in a “crimson pall.” At that point, the cloud folds its wings to rest “on mine aery nest” and is “still as a brooding dove.”

The bird is far from the only metaphor the cloud uses to describe itself in this poem. When it brings a storm, it lashes hail and passes “in thunder.” Lightening, the cloud says, is its pilot, driving the cloud like a ship across the skies. The cloud settles itself on the top of the mountains, and the Moon “glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor,” as the breeze breaks through the weaving of the cloud's roof. The cloud can see the stars through this tear in its tent. The cloud even binds “the Sun's throne” and girds the Moon with pearl. All the “powers of the air” surround the cloud's chair to make a rainbow, and even when the cloud fades away, it laughs, for it knows that it will arise again.

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