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Establishing the Metre

Like tailors who must know their clients’ girths two men set out to find the sprawling measure of the earth.

They walked the curve from Rodez to Barcelona,

and Barcelona to Dunkirk. Such a pilgrimage! They did not call it inches, miles or chains –

this distance which as yet had no clear name.

Between France and Spain they dared to stretch uncalibrated measuring tapes. And foot by weary foot, they found a rhythm the measure that exists in everything.

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