Friday, January 16, 2009

Poetry Friday: Somewhere to Paris

The sole cause of a man's unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room---French mathematician Blaise Pascal, Pensées

As you'll see when you click through to read the whole short poem, my choice for Poetry Friday opens with that Pascal quote, which I profoundly disagree with, unless Pascal (or Blanco, who is quoting him) is being ironic.

This one's for my daughter, who did NOT stay quietly in her room, and is, at this moment, in Paris attending the opening ceremony for the International Year of Astronomy.  

Somewhere to Paris
by Richard Blanco

The vias of Italy turn to memory with each turn
and clack of the train’s wheels, with every stitch
of track we leave behind, the duomos return again
to my imagination, already imagining Paris—
a fantasy of lights and marble that may end
when the train stops at Gare de l’Est and I step
into the daylight. In this space between cities,
between the dreamed and the dreaming, there is
no map—no legend, no ancient street names
or arrows to follow, no red dot assuring me:
you are here—and no place else. If I don’t know

the rest here

Poetry Friday is hosted by Karen Edmisten who is also sharing one of my favorite poems, The Writer

Bonus video: Little Dream of Stars 


  1. The last 6 lines reach in and give words to something previously wordless. Thank you for this one!

    Bravo to your daughter, gloriously out of her room.

  2. I love where he took that, and how he tied back to the epigraph in a beautiful, unexpected way.

  3. Gorgeous poem and bravo to your daughter!! What better place to celebrate star gazing than in the City of Lights! Thanks for the mellow video, too. :)

  4. WOW to Richard Blanco, and I want to read more of his poetry now. "This space between cities,
    between the dreamed and the dreaming..." I love what this poem explores.

    TIME INTERLUDE -- none of our libraries has his stuff. Just looked online. D'oh. Will have to request it.

    Blaine and I were in Paris in 2000, so -- as you can probably imagine-- there was much celebration, even a big "2000" on the Eiffel Tower, all decked out, milleniun-style. I'll have to dig out my picture one day.'s one online:

    I hope your daughter has a fabulous time. Thanks again for that poem.

  5. Thanks Sarah - I love this poem.

    And my daughter is in Paris too!

  6. Debbie, she is? For a short or a long time?

    Jules, thanks for the photo! When my husband and I were there, I had no desire to go up in the Eiffel Tower---I only wanted to see it against the skyline. But maybe I should've stood in line with all the other tourists.

    Jama, I thought you might like the mellow-ness!

    Kelly, Janet: Yes, the ending is what makes this poem for me. And the fact that he could make me re-think that Pascal quote that I rebelled against on first hearing. To be able to "be alone in your room" while also being a part of this world with all your heart---that's worth striving/traveling/reaching for.

  7. Sara,

    Love the poem. Thanks for letting us know it's the International Year of Astronomy--one of my favorite sciences. How exciting for your daughter to be in Paris for the opening ceremony!

  8. If I don’t know
    where I am, then I am only these heartbeats,
    my breaths, the mountains rising and falling
    like a wave scrolling across the train’s window.


    Oooooo, rush. Lump in throat. Yes yes yes...

  9. "I am this
    solitude, never more beautiful,"

    I have never been to Paris but I travelled alone in Germany for a month as a 17 year old. This line reminded me of emotions I had forgotten :)

    Thank you - and praise to your daughter for following the stars!

  10. What a lovely lot of images and emotions. I read the bit about where the poet comes from, and want to read more of his work.

    Also: we traveled through various airports during the holidays, and there's a lot of NASA stuff up in honor of this year. I thought of you and your daughter every single time...

  11. Sara you either have to post more of these fantastic music youtubes or stop it all together!

    Come And Get Your Love has been in my head for the last week. Now I'll be Dream A Little Dream-ing for the rest of the month.

    Truly wonderful poetry, lovely stars, and what a great song.

  12. What a wonderful adventure for your daughter. Love the stars clip, too. My hubby just got a high powered telescope for Christmas...we will certainly enjoy the International Year of Astronomy!

  13. "I am this
    solitude, never more beautiful, the arc of space
    I travel through for a few hours, touching
    nothing and keeping nothing, with nothing
    to deny the night, the dark pines pointing
    to the stars, this life, always moving and still."

    Lovely poem and view of the stars. How wonderful for your daughter!

  14. "this life, always moving and still."

    If I had ever had a daughter, I would have wanted one who was the kind who would be in Paris for the opening ceremony of The International Year of Astronomy!

  15. I love this: If I don’t know
    where I am, then I am only these heartbeats,
    my breaths, the mountains rising and falling
    like a wave scrolling across the train’s window.

    I didn't take the Pascal quote as ironic, since the Blanco poem feels like a tour/celebration of what it is to experience yourself, your moment, regardless of the "reality" outside the train window.

    Love, love the poem. Gorgeous!


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