The Swan – A Response to The Radical Changes

Haussmann’s plans, with their radical redevelopment, coincided with a time of intense political activity in Paris. Many Parisians were troubled by the destruction of “old roots”. The continuous change of physical Paris led to a dramatic change within the social Paris as well. Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) was a French poet whose work expressed the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the 19th century.

The Swan – Charles Baudelaire

Old Paris is gone (no human heart

changes half so fast as a city’s face)…
There used to be a poultry market here,
and one cold morning… I saw

a swan that had broken out of its cage,
webbed feet clumsy on the cobblestones,
white feathers dragging through uneven ruts,
and obstinately pecking at the drains…

Paris changes . . . but in sadness like mine
nothing stirs—new buildings, old
neighbourhoods turn to allegory,

and memories weigh more than stone.”

– “Charles Baudelaire.” Wikipedia. February 12, 2014. Accessed December 6, 2014.

– Cummings, Michael. “Baudelaire’s The Swan: A Study Guide.” Baudelaire’s The Swan: A Study Guide. January 1, 2011. Accessed December 6, 2014.


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