The Visible Invisible
With the rise in popularity of cloud-spotting and the emergence of the principles of cloud formation through Luke Howard’s work, the discussion of clouds as objects begins to fascinate. Are they objects or phenomena? This chapter takes a look at the poetry of John Clare alongside John Constable’s painting to try to characterize and signify one of the most elusive “materials” of Romantic lyric. The link between cloud studies and lyric poetry, then, helps remind us of the global effects of weather system. The seemingly inexhaustible and yet seemingly bounded character of clouds represents the relationship between the work of perception and the work of art. Perception is to revelation and insight as art is to signs—both at once visible and invisible.
Keywords: cloud-spotting, Luke Howard, cloud formation, John Clare, John Constable, lyric poetry, work of perception, work of art, Romantic lyric