In my first week in residence, I’ve been making these Claude glasses, small curved black mirrors which 18th-century poets would have bound like a pocket-book and take up into the fells.
In a sonnet written in response to William Westall’s book of engavings, Views of the Caves near Ingleton, Gordale Scar, and Malham Cove, in Yorkshire, Wordsworth describes the view into a cave as being just like a Claude glass, or ‘Truth’s mystic glass’. In later editions he changes this to ‘thought’s optic glass’.
Night is a continuous shadow or a moon-lit cloud in these erasure poems drawn from Wordsworth’s ‘A Night-Study’ by students at Energy Coast University Technical College in Workington. Sixty students wrote sixty variations and these are only a couple of the many bright nights imagined today. Other students had Wordsworth’s traveller ‘tread / o / n / the moon’ and one opened with what sounds like a warning: ‘piece / is / over’.
As part of the CAVES workshop, the students also wore ear defenders to write in response to sound (and soundlessness), exploring how to manage both the flow and fidget, the start and the stop of new ideas.