As part of a wider project on the phenomenology of the early modern sky (which asks how the sky is presented to us by the senses), this paper considers a poetics of the sky. The difference is that whereas phenomenology tries to reduce an object or impression to its bare minimum as percept, a poetics is attentive to the feeling tone that the object inspires in us. Here I propose that the sky in this period – whether idea or symbol – is pervaded by anxiety. Paradoxically this anxiety was indistinguishable from new spatial technologies of mapping and perspective. The paper begins by considering a notably unanxious medieval symbolism of the sky (in the gothic cathedral) and compares it with anxious early modern counterparts : sky imagery in Milton’s Paradise Lost, Breugel’s Fall of Icarus, and Shakespeare’s King Lear. It is not just that the imagery of the sky differs from medieval to early modern construct, but that the difference is worked out on the basis of a common terminology and tradition.