Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Cloud

Mark Sandy (University of Durham)
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Shelley published “The Cloud” in the

Prometheus Unbound

volume, appearing in July 1820; he had probably composed the lyric in the early months of that same year. Shelley's lyric was poetically inspired by the opening song of the cloud nymphs (or Nepheliads) in Part II of Leigh Hunt's “The Nymphs”, who exclaim in the first-person that it is they “[w]ho bring the clouds from the great sea” (


, 1818, p. xxxi). “The Cloud” draws on Shelley's avid scientific observations and reading, in particular Luke Howard's work on cloud classification in his

Essay on Clouds

(1803) and the hydrological speculations of Adam Walker (who lectured during Shelley's days at Seyon Academy and Eton), which were published in two volumes as

A Familiar System of Philosophy

(1799). “Water,”…

863 words

Citation: Sandy, Mark. "The Cloud". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002 [, accessed 05 March 2024.]

7303 The Cloud 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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