Cities

Cities

The
official Acropolis is of all the conceptions of modern barbarism the
most colossal:

indescribable is the unpolished daylight the sky produces, the immovable
grey,

the imperial radiance of buildings under the sun’s eternal snow.

With a singular flair for the enormous, all the classical marvels of
architecture have been reproduced,

and I visit expositions of painting in galleries twenty times as huge
as Hampton Court.

And what painting! a Norwegian Nebuchadnezzar had built ministerial
staircases;

the mere clerks were prouder than Brennuses and I

trembled before the guards and superintendents. The very arrangement
of buildings in squares,

courtyards and terraces made the cab-drivers drunk. The parks indicate
primitive nature

worked over with consummate art, the upper quarter having inexplicable
spots:

an arm of the sea, without ships, rolling its sheet of sleet between
quays covered with giant candelabra.

A short bridge leads to a postern directly under the dome of the Sainte-chapelle.

This dome has an armature of wrought steel about 15,000 feet in diameter.

At certain points, from copper footbridges, from platforms,

from stairways winding about the halls and piers, I thought

I might be able to judge the depth of the city. But it is prodigious
beyond calculation:

what are the levels of those other quarters lying above or below the
Acropolis?

For a stranger of our times, reconnaissance is impossible.

The commercial quarter is a circus in one style, with arcaded galleries.

no shops are to be seen, but the snow on the causeway is beaten down;

a few nabobs, as rare as pedestrians on a Sunday morning in London,

amble toward a diligence of diamonds. Divans in red velvet;

iced beverages are sold at prices ranging from 800 to 1,000 rupees.

At the very thought of looking for theatres in this circus,

I remind myself that the shops should contain dramas sufficiently gloomy.

I suppose there is a police force; but the law must be so strange that
I

abandon any idea of imagining what sort of adventures are local.

The residential quarter, as elegant as the smartest street in Paris,

is favored with an aura of light; the democratic element numbers a few
thousand souls.

There again, the houses are not in country, or rather ‘county’,

which fills the west endlessly with forests and vast plantations

where unsociable gentlemen search for their family-trees by rays of
artificial light.

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