Piece by piece, Marseille is being ripped apart and rebuilt, just as it has been, time and again, for thousands of years.
Construction workers do more than labor: they have a hand, practical and direct, in the creation and recreation of a place. In Marseille, they build upon the work of the city’s founders and leave their own for future change.
It’s cosmic work, and it makes me think of this passage from Whitman’s Song of Myself:
I am an acme of things accomplished, and I am encloser of things to be.
My feet strike an apex of the apices of stairs,
On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches between the steps,
All below duly travel’d, and still I mount and mount.
Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me,
Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even there,
I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist,
And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon.
Long I was hugg’d close–long and long.
Immense have been the preparations for me,
Faithful and friendly the arms that have helped me.