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Ethereal photo of clouds in the sky.

89 Ways Of Looking At A Cloud


89 Clouds, by the poet Mark Strand and artist Wendy Mark is one of the most beautiful books on clouds.

Eh! qu’aimes-tu donc, extraordinaire étranger ?
– J’aime les nuages… les nuages qui passent… là-bas… là-bas… les merveilleux nuages !

Charles Baudelaire

Just the concept of cloudy makes us think of fog and altitude, and appeals to that tenuous romance between humans and imprecision. “Man is in love and loves what vanishes. What more is there to say?”said W. B. Yeats once. And perhaps only a poet or an artist, such as Baudelaire or J.W. Turner, can access something as eternally elusive as clouds.

In 1991, Pulitzer Prize-wining poet Mark Strand and the artist Wendy Mark joined forces to create one of the most beautiful books in existence on the shifting theme of clouds. A memorable collection of little ghosts. 89 Clouds is an 89-verse poem on the atmospheric phenomenon that has given form(s) to more than one disperse imagination. Perhaps similar to Wallace Stevens’ ominous poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, 89 Clouds is also a list of possible ways of looking at clouds – which are never the same, not even to themselves –– with the good fortune to be accompanied by Mark’s illustrations.

In no particular order, these are some of the verses of the book, which remain in the memory like clouds do (because “no whiteness (lost) is so white as the memory of whiteness”).

A cloud is never a mirror

Square black and white cloud painting


Words about clouds are clouds themselves


Square sepia-toned painting of clouds.


If snow falls inside a cloud, only the cloud knows


Every lake desires a cloud


A cloud without shape is always open

Pink painting of clouds.


Clouds are drawn by invisible birds


The cloud that was gone would never come back


A cloud is a cathedral without belief


A cloud painting comprised of nine tiles.


A cloud lit from within is somebody’s study


A cloud dreams only of triangles

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