Il se trouva ... parmi les etrangers qui affluerent a Paris apres la Commune pour satisfaire une curiosite malsaine et se repaitre de ruines, un esthete qui, singeant Neron assistant du haut des jardins du Palatin au spectacle de l'incendie de Rome ... jugea elegant de s'extasier sur la beaute romantique des decombres. (Reau 802) THE Paris Commune ruins of 1871 provide a scene of conflict between detached, writerly interests in the aesthetics of architecture and the immediate, objective political demands of civil war. It's a scene in which the urban landscape draws the writer into an equivocal stance that pits bourgeois values against the desire to remain unengaged. Yet it also appears following Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal (1857), when urban aesthetics has shifted its political and ethical vision of the cityscape in a challenging way for this particular stance. My object here will be to read tenets of the picturesque and poetics of ruins that are traceable in Commune accounts by Edmond de Goncourt and Theophile Gautier, against Baudelaire's reconfiguration of landscape in his verse poem "Paysage."