This essay contends that the poetic project of Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea, resonates with the “descriptive turn” of Bruno Latour. Reading Finch’s “Upon the Hurricane” alongside Latour’s attacks on critique, I demonstrate that the two writers share a resistance to ontologies that distinguish tidily between subjects and objects and that they each embrace a mode of modest, provisional description that explores the multifarious relationships between things (including people) in the world. I use these resonances to caution against common misreadings of early eighteenth-century nature poetry—misreadings that, I argue, implicitly rely on anachronistic ‘modern’ or Romantic assumptions about subjects and objects, language and reality. I also contend, in closing, that Finch’s poetry suggests rich resources for descriptive or new materialist projects in Latour’s mode; particularly, it suggests that we ought to take seriously figurative language as a tool for better understanding the world.


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pp. 251-265
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