• Route 7 Review

Joel Netsky’s “Paris Sketches, circa 1971”

As I was searching through the archives of Issue 3, this particular poem caught my eye. The first in a series of four under the title “Paris Sketches, circa 1971” is one that evokes strong emotion. Netsky weaves the pain of the Nazis era into the post-WWII commemoration of the sweetly ringing bells of Notre Dame. Netsky’s words are cause for reflection at the horrors produced by the Adolf Hitler regime, and a call to honor the millions of individuals who suffered. Although the bell’s tribute can never remedy the pain so many went through, it is an offering of remembrance for their lives.


Late one August eve – past eleven –

a choir of angels subsumed the air.

“’Tis the bells of Notre Dame on the anniversary

of the liberation of Paris from the Nazis.”

On and on the oratorio of manumission,

so pure and sweet I was privy

to an estate beyond the mondial,

so numinous and beautiful that no one moved

- though perhaps by custom, to me by inability –

each in his own private chamber

at this sacral evocation of thought and remembrance.

Minute after minute, one in wonder at the drawing out

from the past, the surge inside many

that the ringing made surface and assuaged.

Many in darkened rooms must recall

at the behest of this celestial harmony their desecration –

only a heavenly music would dare resurrect

such atrocities without path for expiation.


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