Is it wrong to quote Shelley when writing about a visit to France? I’ll admit when I saw the Obelisk of Luxor at the Place de la Concorde, the poem “Ozymandias” was the first thought that occurred to me. It refers to Ramesses II, and was written at the time that the British Museum had acquired the head and torso of the pharaoh’s statue in Thebes. The poem is about the decay of even mankind’s greatest accomplishments in the face of history and the ravages of time.
I thought that the displacement of the Obelisk from Egypt to France was comparable — I’m sure that at the height of their society, the Egyptians never dreamed that their great monuments of the hardest stone would never be dismantled and scattered across the world.
We caught the Obelisk at sunset, having spent the afternoon in the Louvre and walked through the Jardin des Tuileries (another of my wife’s fantastic ideas in Paris). The late sun makes the gold inscriptions glow on the shadowed side of the stone, giving it something of a mystical vibe.
I feel so blessed to have seen Paris during a very warm late summer. The clear skies and bright sun made the city and its landmarks a delight to visit. Even if I return, I doubt that we will be so fortunate.