Why Paris? Reason #5

January 25, 2010 at 4:01 pm Leave a comment

The Seine, that lovely river that draws everyone inexorably to its banks, has drawn the notice and literary homage of virtually every writer who has ever spent time in Paris.

The Seine alone is one very good answer to the question “Why Paris?”  Especially the Seine at sunset.

In her 1967 travel guide, Paris: Places and Pleasures, Kate Simon wrote, Whenever you are in Paris at twilight in the early summer,return to the Seine and watch the evening sky close slowly on a last strand of daylight fading quietly, like a sigh.

And this is from Janet Flanner’s introduction to Paris Was Yesterday:

At any season, and all year long, in the evening the view of the city from bridges was always exquisitely pictorial. One’s eyes became the eyes of a painter, because the sight itself approximated art, with the narrow, pallid facades of the buildings lining the river; with the tall trees growing down by the water’s edge; with, behind them, the vast chiaroscuro of the palatial Louvre, lightened by the luminous lemon color of the Paris sunset off toward the west; with the great square, pale stone silhouette of Notre-Dame to the east. The stance from which to see Paris was any one of its bridges at the close of day.

There have been thousands of other poetic  tributes to the Seine. But perhaps no one will ever write more beautiful words about this river that wends its way through the heart of Paris than the poet Apollinaire,  in his poem, Le Pont Mirabeau.

Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine

Et nos amours

Faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne

La joie venait toujours apres la peine.

Vienne la nuit, sonne l’heure,

Les jours s’en vont, je demeure…

Even without understanding the meaning of these words, the music of the language is surpassingly beautiful.  But that is the subject of another post.

Stay tuned, and a bientot!

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor and teacher of writing and literature based in Silver Spring, Maryland.  She teaches literature courses in Paris and Hawaii for the Education Abroad program at Queens College, CUNY, and twice a year she offers Writing from the Heart workshops in a beautiful little village in the Champagne region of France.


Entry filed under: About Paris. Tags: , , , , , , .

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