Alan Seeger

Here you will find the Long Poem Paris of poet Alan Seeger


First, London, for its myriads; for its height, 
Manhattan heaped in towering stalagmite; 
But Paris for the smoothness of the paths 
That lead the heart unto the heart's delight. . . . 

Fair loiterer on the threshold of those days 
When there's no lovelier prize the world displays 
Than, having beauty and your twenty years, 
You have the means to conquer and the ways, 

And coming where the crossroads separate 
And down each vista glories and wonders wait, 
Crowning each path with pinnacles so fair 
You know not which to choose, and hesitate -- 

Oh, go to Paris. . . . In the midday gloom 
Of some old quarter take a little room 
That looks off over Paris and its towers 
From Saint Gervais round to the Emperor's Tomb, -- 

So high that you can hear a mating dove 
Croon down the chimney from the roof above, 
See Notre Dame and know how sweet it is 
To wake between Our Lady and our love. 

And have a little balcony to bring 
Fair plants to fill with verdure and blossoming, 
That sparrows seek, to feed from pretty hands, 
And swallows circle over in the Spring. 

There of an evening you shall sit at ease 
In the sweet month of flowering chestnut-trees, 
There with your little darling in your arms, 
Your pretty dark-eyed Manon or Louise. 

And looking out over the domes and towers 
That chime the fleeting quarters and the hours, 
While the bright clouds banked eastward back of them 
Blush in the sunset, pink as hawthorn flowers, 

You cannot fail to think, as I have done, 
Some of life's ends attained, so you be one 
Who measures life's attainment by the hours 
That Joy has rescued from oblivion. 


Come out into the evening streets. The green light lessens in the west. 
The city laughs and liveliest her fervid pulse of pleasure beats. 

The belfry on Saint Severin strikes eight across the smoking eaves: 
Come out under the lights and leaves 
to the Reine Blanche on Saint Germain. . . . 

Now crowded diners fill the floor of brasserie and restaurant. 
Shrill voices cry "L'Intransigeant," and corners echo "Paris-Sport." 

Where rows of tables from the street are screened with shoots of box and bay, 
The ragged minstrels sing and play and gather sous from those that eat. 

And old men stand with menu-cards, inviting passers-by to dine 
On the bright terraces that line the Latin Quarter boulevards. . . . 

But, having drunk and eaten well, 'tis pleasant then to stroll along 
And mingle with the merry throng that promenades on Saint Michel. 

Here saunter types of every sort. The shoddy jostle with the chic: 
Turk and Roumanian and Greek; student and officer and sport; 

Slavs with their peasant, Christ-like heads, 
and courtezans like powdered moths, 
And peddlers from Algiers, with cloths 
bright-hued and stitched with golden threads; 

And painters with big, serious eyes go rapt in dreams, fantastic shapes 
In corduroys and Spanish capes and locks uncut and flowing ties; 

And lovers wander two by two, oblivious among the press, 
And making one of them no less, all lovers shall be dear to you: 

All laughing lips you move among, all happy hearts that, knowing what 
Makes life worth while, have wasted not the sweet reprieve of being young. 

"Comment ca va!" "Mon vieux!" "Mon cher!" 
Friends greet and banter as they pass. 
'Tis sweet to see among the mass comrades and lovers everywhere, 

A law that's sane, a Love that's free, and men of every birth and blood 
Allied in one great brotherhood of Art and Joy and Poverty. . . . 

The open cafe-windows frame loungers at their liqueurs and beer, 
And walking past them one can hear fragments of Tosca and Boheme. 

And in the brilliant-lighted door of cinemas the barker calls, 
And lurid posters paint the walls with scenes of Love and crime and war. 

But follow past the flaming lights, borne onward with the stream of feet, 
Where Bullier's further up the street is marvellous on Thursday nights. 

Here all Bohemia flocks apace; you could not often find elsewhere 
So many happy heads and fair assembled in one time and place. 

Under the glare and noise and heat the galaxy of dancing whirls, 
Smokers, with covered heads, and girls dressed in the costume of the street. 

From tables packed around the wall the crowds that drink and frolic there 
Spin serpentines into the air far out over the reeking hall, 

That, settling where the coils unroll, tangle with pink and green and blue 
The crowds that rag to "Hitchy-koo" and boston to the "Barcarole". . . . 

Here Mimi ventures, at fifteen, to make her debut in romance, 
And joi