I've been translating Baudelaire—a mixture of the prose poems in Spleen and the poem-poems in Fleurs du Mal. I had a vague idea that there might be a book in a collection of the prose poems that had a versified twin. I’m no longer so sure about this, but I’m finding at least a couple of things fascinating: firstly, that all the types (widows, children, artisans, clowns, prostitutes and mistresses) still stroll Parisian streets and parks in modern dress. Spend an hour or two sitting in a chair, nose in and out of your book, in the Luxembourg and you will see Baudelaire's world go by. It strikes me that most of the people I see are universals, and that this wouldn't be true in California, which is too new. But it might be true in London, for instance, if only I knew London well enough? That the world of Dickens or Woolf goes about its business in modern dress?

Then there is the fairground scene in Baudelaire: a prose poem about an old saltimbanco, or showman. These old fairs still exist, seasonally, on the outskirts of Paris and in the city proper, in the Bois de Boulogne and the Tuileries, for example, at certain times of the year. They are a little like state fairs or the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) and CNE in Canada: bump-cars, games, agricultural produce, cotton candy. But a couple visits to Ikea-Avignon in the last two weeks also makes me think that there might be a poem there too, that absorbed into itself a lot of the old stereotypes.