Vile Atmospheres and Stagnant Wonders: Clare in the Fens

By Tess Somervell

In our latest Romantic Climates blog post, Dr Erin Lafford (Oxford) writes on John Clare, fenlands, and ‘Romantic air’.

In his essay ‘The Correspondent Breeze’ (1984), M. H. Abrams laid a foundation for thinking about the role of ‘air-in-motion’ in Romantic period poetry.[1] Alongside tracing the significance of air (and its movements in winds, breaths, and breezes) as a key metaphor for emotional and political renovation, Abrams also acknowledged that ‘the moving air lent itself pre-eminently to the aim of tying man back into the environment’. He did not, however, specify what type of environment this is or should be. If the legacy of Abrams’ essay is that there has long been identified a prominent aerial imagination in Romantic poetry and poetics, then there is room now to think about how this aerial imagination might speak to, and be readdressed by, the concerns and approaches of the environmental humanities. Specifically, in this blog post I hope to offer some thoughts about how the trope of aerial inspiration so central to Abrams’ reading of Romanticism can be brought into relationship with ideas about the impact of the environment and its climatic effects on individuals that were circulating in the eighteenth …read more