Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Cloud Watching

'Clouds are all sorts. They are a medium of revelation, through which the gods show themselves. They're a playground for human imagination, where we can see any number of forms and creatures ("Very like a whale!"). They are mood music, the emotional backdrop to a scene. They are complex natural phenomena, which challenge our capacity for accurate observation..." 
- On Constable's Study of Clouds, The Independent

I love clouds. They are like the sky's personality! And watching them eddy and flow is a constant fascination.

The English painter Constable is renowned for his masterly depictions of clouds and his many cloud studies. Rumour has it that he even painted a sky every day. Now there's dedication, or rather, adoration. If you want to see more of Constabe's clouds have a look here.

 Student of Clouds - Billy Collins
The emotion is to be found in clouds,
not in the green solids of the sloping hills
or even in the gray signatures of rivers,
according to Constable,who was a student of clouds
and filled shelves of notebooks with their motion,
their lofty gesturing and sudden implication of weather.

Outdoor, he must have looked up thousands of times,
his pencil trying to keep pace with their high voyaging
and the silent commotion of the eddying and flow.
Clouds would move beyond the outlines he would draw
as they moved within themselves, tumbling into their centers
and swirling off at the burning edges in vapors
to dissipate into the universal blue of the sky.

In photographs we can stop all this movement now
long enough to tag them with their Latin names.
Cirrus, nimbus, stratocumulus -
dizzying, romantic, authoritarian -
they bear their titles over the schoolhouses below
where their shapes and meanings are memorized.

High on the soft blue canvases of Constable
they are stuck in pigment but his clouds appear
to be moving still in the wind of his brush,
inching out of England and the nineteenth century
and sailing over these meadows where I am walking,
bareheaded beneath the cupola of motion,
my thoughts arranged like paint on a high blue ceiling.


  1. I love your poems and I love Billy Collins! Thank you for all your poems. Sometimes I use them on my blog too. :)

    1. That's lovely to hear, thank you. Glad you are enjoying them and sharing them with a wider audience too :)


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