Paris Before Colour Photography

They queue to enter the honeycomb of the Louvre,
to view Delacroix’s flag and The Raft of the Medusa.
Or Giotto’s Virgin, blue-robed and beautiful,
even with the cracks of centuries blemishing her features.
They have come to Paris in its yellow season
of fat pigeons and cemetery leaves falling like ballerinas
in Montparnasse. The river puts on a show
of river traffic: pleasure boats whose passengers see Paris
as it was before colour photography.
A bitter breeze blows through Rue Descartes
and those streets where the bells of St Genevieve
were first to speak when the prince of poets,
calling for the last sacrament,
slipped the leash of Paris without a backward glance.

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