The cloud and the dune

Paulo Coelho

“Everyone knows that the lives of clouds are very active, but very short,” writes Bruno Ferrero. And that brings us to another story:

A young cloud was born in the middle of a great storm in the Mediterranean Sea. But it hardly had time to grow there; a strong wind pushed all the clouds towards Africa.

As soon as they arrived on the continent, the climate changed: a warm sun shone in the sky, and down below the golden sand of the Sahara desert spread into the distance. The wind continued to push them towards the forests in the south, since it hardly ever rains in the desert.

However, just as it is with young people, so with young clouds: this one decided to break away from its parents and older friends, to see the world.

– What are you doing? – complained the wind. – The entire desert is exactly the same! Come back to the group, and let’s go to the center of Africa, where there are beautiful mountains and trees!

But the young cloud, a rebel by nature, did not obey; little by little, it lowered its altitude, until it was able to float on a gentle, generous breeze down near the golden sands. After wandering all over the place, it noticed that one of the dunes was smiling at it.

It was because the dune was also young, recently formed by the wind which had just passed. Straight away, the cloud fell in love with its golden hair.

– Good morning – said the cloud. – What is it like living down there?

– I have the company of the other dunes, the sun, the wind, and the caravans which pass by from time to time. Sometimes it is very hot, but it is bearable. And what is living up there like?

– There is also the wind and the sun, but the advantage is, I can wander across the sky and get to know everything.

– For me life is short – said the dune. – When the wind returns from the forests, I will disappear.

– And does that make you sad?

– It gives me the impression that I am of no use to anyone.

– I feel the same way. As soon as another wind comes, I will go south and become rain; however, that’s my destiny.

The dune hesitated for a moment, before saying:

– Did you know that, down here in the desert, we call the rain Paradise?

– I didn’t know I could become something so important – said the proud cloud.

– I’ve heard several legends told by old dunes. They say that, after the rain, we are covered in herbs and flowers. But I’d never know what that is like, for in the desert it only rains very rarely.

This time it was the cloud which hesitated. But then it started to smile joyfully:

– If you like, I can cover you with rain. Although I’ve only just arrived, I am in love with you, and would like to stay here forever.

– When I first saw you up in the sky, I too fell in love – said the dune. – but if you turn your lovely white hair into rain, you will die.

– Love never dies – said the dune. – It transforms; and I want to show you Paradise.

And so it began to caress the dune with droplets; they remained together like this for a long time, until a rainbow appeared.

The next day, the small dune was covered in flowers. Other clouds passing towards central Africa, thought that must be part of the forest they were searching for, and poured down more rain. Twenty years later, the dune had become an oasis, which refreshed travelers under the shade of its trees.

And all because, one day, a loving cloud hadn’t been afraid to give up its life in the name of love.

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  1. Detlef says:

    For my web site about Europe’s tallest dune, Dune du Pilat in France, last night I chose my new “Picture of the Week”. It shows the dune with a big cloud. So I wanted to call the photo “The dune and the cloud”. And after entering this into Google out of curiosity, I found this wonderful story and this wonderful blog! Thank you so much!

  2. emmnouil says:

    here is my creation based on this beautiful story…

  3. sami says:

    yes,,,the most amazing storry i”ve ever red,,,i”m a dune of african desert,now its bieng 4 years and am keeping searching the cloude who rained me with its love,my eyes right now r tearing,just wish to hear its thunder,feel its sbreading over my loved melted skin,she is,yes she”ll be always and forever “is” and never”was”Roxana velicea”she”ll be always my ever live cloude,,,please if anyone just can say to her that her dune is much yearning to her,,,its an african shout to all clouds,yearning to my dune…

  4. divya puri says:

    A very sweet and touching story read in a long time. Great work :)

    1. Ritika Upmanyu says:

      It is indeed a beautiful story :)

  5. Binky says:

    I’ve just read this story in your book. Very beautiful!! :D :D

    Love makes you grow only by giving it others!!

  6. Uku says:

    Love is all around us indeed.

    Thank you, Paulo. Great story.


  7. pari says:

    Hi Paulo!!

    I just read this story yesterday in your book “Like The Flowing River”.
    Its my favorite story. It brought back my faith in love.
    Thank you so much for writing this beautiful story.


  8. Sem. Edison Marbella says:

    Peace!!Bro. Paulo!!your such a very good inspation!!!
    thank’s God because He gives us a person like you. Though your inspirational writings I am able to persevere in my chosen vocation and able to fulfill my daily existence in the seminary!!!how i wish to see you!!!

    With Prayer, Sem. Edison Marbella, Philippines

  9. shongaska(WhiteHorse) says:

    Good Morning Paulo and Family, After reading today my words of yesterday, they make me realize how very clumsy I am in expressing a life altering experience. After reading you in such close context with my pitiful outpouring this is revelatory to me, so now I say “thank you Paulo”, again.

  10. shongaska(WhiteHorse) says:

    Princess Viktoria of the Kingdom of Moldavia sent me this exquisite story of The Cloud and the Dune. We met in a country foreign to me, Montreal, 3 years ago as I was on a short visit and where she had recently immigrated from her Motherland of Moldova. It was Viktoria that made me forever grateful that I never lost faith in finding her, the “One Great Love” of all my lives.I was her knight in rusty armor, she my unearthly Goddess….and to my everlasting exultation, she loved me. She came to visit me, her earthbound native warrior, at my home in Oklahoma and for the briefest moment, we were allowed to bring alive all our dreams of love fulfilled. Time, my ancient age, her deserving youth, was the only force that could and did drive us apart.
    My prayer is only that she find a way to tell me that she is alive and well. Then only can I find the pain endurable.
    These are my words,Princess Viktotia
    Until we meet again, I remain with love and respect,
    your loyal Shongaska

  11. harukichi says:

    Hello from Indonesia! ^^ This story is beautiful. It made me realize that love is everywhere. That the motion of life itself is driven by love.

    thank you,


  12. Marie-Christine says:

    a friend – can open a window onto another world.

  13. Tomi Itkonen says:

    Great story! I added a quote to my water-themed blog book:

  14. Molly says:

    Thanks for the amazing story. Wow. It moved me.
    Love never dies…it transforms.
    I felt that in a raw place.

  15. Katharina says:

    Dear Nelson,

    I agree…I felt also reminded yesterday, by reading this story.

  16. Nelson D'Silva says:

    For some reason it reminded me of – Oscar Wilde – The Nightingale and the Rose ( I don’t remember who sent the link to that story, but it was equally good).


  17. marg says:

    Amazing story!.
    You can see so many things when looking at clouds.They are like a pandora box, you never know what you are going to find.
    Reminiscent of time spent in the desert when clouds are so rare and precious.
    Thank you for that. I’ll cherish that story.

  18. aditya says:

    nice story paulo ? an original ??!!!

    looking the sea of admiration for the story, one may safelly assume that many more of us, will be willing to live a little more purpousefully ( which will be led by love and would lead us to love )every day, doing whatever ‘insgignificant’ thing we may be doing, a little more soulfully.


  19. mariam says:

    strange how simple words can make ya shed a tear , strange how can it gives ya hope when ur down and lonly .

  20. Barbara says:

    Una storia bellissima Paulo…grazie infinite!

  21. Alexandra says:

    Too beautiful that story.I love it. Very nice phrase”Love never dissapears,it only transforms”.Thank you

  22. twylah says:

    Reading this story, i was reminded of a childish poem i once wrote about two years ago…and so i’d share:


    One raindrop says to another,
    as they race each other to the ground:

    “I’m destined
    To be a part of a great river;
    We would carve
    The edge of stubborn earth
    We will be the greatest architects”

    The other raindrop, not about to be outdone,
    Proclaims loud and clear:

    “I will be a part
    Of the rice field;
    It would be a noble deed!
    We will fill the multitudes;
    We become
    The human race!”

    A raindrop passes them by, skeptic
    He tauntingly asked:

    “What if it wont happen?
    What are you to do?”

    Without doubt, the two replied:

    “Then I believe
    I will be a part of the sea;
    Immeasurable, unconquerable;
    A serene stillness, a raging storrn”

    “And I precious
    Drop to fill a well,
    In a dry arid land.
    I’d quench thirst, an oasis,
    A blessing to man”

    The skeptic shakes his beady head, amused
    Speeding past a hundred raindrops,
    His journey met a sudden death.

    As the two raindrops near the ground;
    The race about to end.The first cries out:

    “Oh No! The river’s too far!”

    The second:

    “Oh No! I don’t see a rice field nearby!”
    “Nor the sea or a well”

    Both in despair
    They meet their fate.
    The first, on a woman’s cheek.
    The second, on a child’s forehead
    And were heard no more.

    Seasons passed
    Summer gave way to rain.
    The two raindrops
    Beyond the clouds
    In blue heavens cleansed
    Meet once again.

    The first confessed to the other:

    “I never made it to the river
    Nor the unconquerable sea;
    But I kissed the cheeks
    Of a woman forlorn,
    Hid her tears
    And became a drop of love”

    The second replied
    Just as solemn as the first:

    “I never did make it to the rice field,
    Nor the well;
    But I became a trickle
    On a child’s face at play,
    A peal of laughter,
    A cherished memory.”

    ***I find the story of the dune and the cloud to be more deep and meaningful..That with even the smallest act of courage, a smallest act of love and kindness would eventually go a long long way. Like the blue light of love, spreading outwards….outwards…

  23. El Dormido says:

    In a Flash Gordon comic strip decades ago, they met and were involved with a kingdom of sentient cloud beings. How wonderfully poetic I thought at the time.

    Recently a sciend report indicated that clouds were teeming with microbiologic life on the order of magnitude than the population density of the earth.

    My opinion is that love is the energy that binds the cosmos together, and the force through which all becomes whether we realize it or not. The dream of the world mistakes substance for solid.

    So I see the unity of being such that clouds and dunes converse, fall in love and give to one another as entirely reasonable and ordinary and why don’t we live there ourselves, no?

  24. Lewis says:

    Ah…reminds me of a story I wrote; it’s about a piece of cow dung and a flower that met in the desert:)
    I guess all I can say is – peaceful. It is the power of love, so vast, so determined, and yet it is never forceful. Sometimes this is a bit hard to accept.

    By the way, shouldn’t “Love never dies – said the dune. – It transforms; and I want to show you Paradise.” be “Love never dies – said the cloud. – It transforms; and I want to show you Paradise.”?

    Thanks Paulo, I love your story

  25. c says:

    - Love never dies – said the dune. – It transforms; and I want to show you Paradise.

    Pardon me, Paulo, did you meant – said the “cloud”?

  26. I send messages to myself to remind of the days when I find myself with a lightness of being and an unexplainable happiness.

    I woke up, went to church then, afterwards whilst commuting for work I just had that feeling and sms myself.

    I open my computer at work, and read this story, I find myself in such a happy state of self!

    Thank You! Thank You Very Much!

  27. Tania says:

    My favorite :-) story – goes straight to the heart of every women -this love story ….its how love should emanate -and shower .Blessings Tania

  28. Monika says:

    Every time I read this story it makes me melt! (I already knew it from myspace)

  29. rajni says: is diwali day here in india which means a festival of lights.though i am new to ur blog, but have beeen an ardent reader of your books since some time…want to thank you for bringing the light of love n knowledge to so many’s story was touching n seemed to have read somwhere before..maybe in some of your previous book..dear paulo, how do your words tug at the hearts of we readers,they never ever fail to move me..but wonder if such love(as of the dune n cloud’s) will ever come my way…..

  30. This story was almost same as one of my stories I wrote in last June with different charachter and different ending, but in mine it is more searching true love. You can see it here

  31. Mary says:

    That story really made an impression on me. So simple, yet so true. Thank you for that light of wisdom and optimism. It will bring a rainbow to anyone’s day!

  32. M says:

    To Paolo: Is it possible to stop loving someone whom you once loved?

  33. M says:

    Beautiful !!

  34. luce says:

    Dear Paulo,

    I love this story, I read it already in one of your books.

    I love it and believe in it with all my heart.

    Courrage to love and to give love results with Life itself, give way to Miracle.

    Lots and losts of love to you,

  35. tinni t. (us) says:

    how beautiful :)

  36. Katharin says:

    It is one of the stories, which I will never forget.
    …like the fairy tales, we all heard during our childhood and which we have never forgotten again……
    We all should tell it to a second and third person and perhaps this story will become a famous fairy tale!

  37. Z says:

    Thank you!! I am still fairly new to your blog.. Thanks for this story… it is easy to be so giving when the love is returned. I’m currently the cloud but the Dune doesn’t need me and has acted in ways that suggest he doesn’t deserve me. It hurts but I do pray that someday I can experience something as beautiful as what you express here.


  38. mariangela says:

    Que história mais linda !
    O Amor é vida,
    O Amor é ilimitado !
    Gostaria de ler essa história em portuguíªs, porque é bela demais !

  39. Marie says:

    This story has yet again reminded me of the power of LOVE.

  40. THELMA says:

    I am speechless!! [for the first time, thank GOD!!]
    A piece of art, reflecting the magnitude of LOVE and LIfe. Thank you, Paulo Coelho, with my whole heart.

  41. Anneliese Flores Clar says:

    My God!!! This story is so beautiful!!! It touched my heart deeply!!!
    Some times I don’t know how everything is going to turn up, I just follow my heart, like the young cloud, and wonder!!! I wish too, I’m able to make an oasis for some to enjoy, to give rest!!!
    You dear Paulo, have made a very big, wonderful Oasis, where you give shelter and nurture your reader’s souls, hearts and minds!!!
    Thank you so much!!! Much Love and Light to you!!!

  42. Savita Vega says:

    This is probably the most beautiful love story I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing it!


  43. nho(spain) says:

    Una historia preciosa, necesitamos regar más y cultivar oasis.
    Be Water My friend!

  44. Uku says:

    Love is all around us indeed.

    Thank you, Paulo. Great story.


  45. Heart says:

    Oh my god. I love this story. Divine.

  46. Catherine says:

    Probably the best story told in a long long while ;o)
    Thank you!