The whole poem contains six stanzas, of which these are the first and the last. Shelly imagines that the cloud is a person, the ‘I’ who speaks and describes itself. The first stanza tells us about its activity; the last stanza deals with the growth and disappearance of clouds, while here ‘I’ really stands for moisture-water in all its forms, on earth and in the sky.
The cloud says that it brings fresh showers of rain for thirsty plants and flowers from the oceans, seas, lakes, rivers and streams; water evaporates from these to form clouds, and then fall as rain. When the sun gets too hot in the afternoon and the plants are at the mercy of the scorching heat of the sun, the rain bears a light shade for the leaves and relieves them of the uneasiness. When the wings of the clouds are shaken, it wakes up the idle dews on the leaves of plants and enlightened their flowering buds. The flora are cooed to rest on the motherly earth; as the earth is the mother of all living things; as she moves around the sun. Shelly is talking of the earth as a planet. The ‘flail’ is an instrument used for beating wheat, to separate the grain from the husk. The hail strikes the earth hard, like a flail hitting the wheat. Hail consists of little balls of ice, so when it lies on the ground, it makes the green plains look white. Then the hail melts into water again, evaporates into the air to form clouds of rain, and ultimately pours down joyfully as stormy rain along with thunder and lightning.
The rain claims and considers itself to be the daughter of Earth and Water; since moisture evaporates from both earth and water to form clouds. It is a child that is brought up by the ultimate nurse of Mother Nature i.e. the sky. The rain passes through very small spaces or holes in a substance called pores. Rain passes into these spaces in the land and sea, and the water returns from them to the cloud by evaporation. We perspire through pores in our skin. The rain can alter and change but it cannot die. After the heavy rains, there are no stains of showers even when the sky is clear. The sun rays bend in the air, especially when the sun is low, and curve down towards the earth. The convex gleams make the clear air look like a blue dome of air. The rain silently laughs at its empty tomb, or monument to a dead person whose body is not buried there. The blue sky is the cloud’s ‘cenotaph’, because the cloud seems to have died and is not present in the sky. At the right appointed time the cloud will return to destroy the blue sky.