Under the Eye of the Clock

Springtime in Paris is here again
and all along the banks of the Seine
artists are unpacking chalks and oils,
canvases, water colours, and easels,
ignored by preoccupied passers-by
and unaware of the all-seeing eye
of the Académie Française clock.
Above every one of its ticks and tocks,
it’s listening for foreign impurity
on the streets of the capital city,
preferring ordinateur, logiciel, and courriel
to the snappier computer, software and e-mail.
A shadowy presence behind time’s face
safeguards language from the pace
of progress and gender inclusive spelling,
promoting purism and feminist quelling.

Kim M. Russell, 2nd June 2018

Clock of the Académie Française, Paris, Andre Kertesz (1932)

My response to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Camera FLASH!

Kerry says it’s time to strike a pose with our photographic challenge for June, which comes with a wide angle and any filter of our choosing.

As soon as I read the words ‘Académie Française’, I was reminded of the purist debate from the days when I studied linguistics at university. I hadn’t really explored it until I started a project about the use of English loan words in French and German advertising. The Académie’s language police started another row last year when they argued that new gender-inclusive spellings being adopted by President Emmanuel Macron’s government, the civil service and academics pose a “mortal danger” to the purity of French.


25 thoughts on “Under the Eye of the Clock

    1. Thank you, Sanaa! It’s been pouring all day here and my husband saved us from a flood with sandbags and a stiff broom. I’ve been suffering from migraine and twitchy eyes, so it’s early to bed for me. I’ll be back to read in the morning.


    1. Thanks Viv! The sun’s trying to break through this morning. It looks very damp, with so many puddles. I feel sorry for the poor person whose van got stuck in the flood under a railway bridge in the next town. Our garden looks a lot greener this morning!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. kaykuala

    ignored by preoccupied passers-by
    and unaware of the all-seeing eye
    of the Académie Française clock.

    Activities have a way of making itself available irrespective of the locations especially where foreigners meet!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. For me, this line is a brilliant reading of the image:
    “A shadowy presence behind time’s face”
    and how well you have presented the stalling of history, and progress from this vantage point.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Any language emerges from the past and can never remain pure because it never was from the start as it grew from others…however they tried whereas the USA and Australia have made theirs a hodge podge of many languages!

    Liked by 1 person

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