Poetry’s rich tradition of urban wandering

People-walking-nycKathleen Rooney at Poetry Magazine:

Many poets have recognized the connection between urban walking and poetry, but perhaps the first to do so in any kind of systematic way was Charles Baudelaire. He posited in both his nonfiction and his poems, particularly those in Paris Spleen(posthumously published in 1869), that such close observation and curiosity ought to be among the governing emotions of the urban walker and artist. In his 1863 essay “The Painter of Modern Life,” Baudelaire lays out much of his theory of flânerie, or aimless walking through a city; he writes of the titular painter and archetypal flâneur Constantin Guys that “to begin to understand M. G., the first thing to note is this: that curiosity may be considered the starting point of his genius.”

To be curious can mean to be eager to learn or know something, or it can mean strange or unusual, and Baudelaire’s literary output offers examples of both definitions. Etymologically, the word derives from the Latin curiosus, meaning “careful, diligent; inquiring eagerly”; it is also related to cura or “care.” In other words, paying attention to the city outside you and what it evokes within you can be a form of care.

more here.