Set between references to classical myth, today’s new poem uses a captive swan to summon up the anguish of those who have lost something irreplaceable in Baudelaire’s poem mourning the destruction of the old city of Paris. Hear the French and follow in English here, and see the illustrated blog post here.

Not everyone welcomed the Paris of the boulevards that we so admire today when in the nineteenth century swathes of a much-loved, ancient city were swept away to make way for it. Today’s poem uses the classical motif of Andromache, widow of Troy’s greatest warrior, Hector, and the image of a trapped and desperate swan to express Baudelaire’s vision of Paris changed for ever and the anguish of all those who long for something irretrievably lost. Hear the poem in the original French and follow in English here.

Rainer Maria Rilke uses the swan to make a point about the difficulty of life and the serenity of death. Agree or disagree? Hear the German read by Tatjana Pisarski and follow in translation here.