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Ut Pictura Poesis

John Constable, Cloud Study, 24.8cm x 30.2cm, 1821


[Listen to the poem]

Outside, in the garden, port-blue skies,

runnels and breakers from the troposphere,

huge fat flakes of snow float to raw, evergreen grass,

frozen buds of roses, blanched ochre moss--

the purple crocuses lean, half-cocksure

to come out up the bright green fence.

Pancake's gleaming feline eyes angle towards


a three-year old, who wants to eat the flakes,

and me--dreaming of Finisterre, a time

of lonely, after-love walks to the sea,

whole afternoons of quiet from the clams.

For an instant this picture is entirely

painted out in mercury, but soon gives in

to cramps, cold, and other odd allurements.