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In Paris with You -- James Fenton

Guest poem sent in by ochemma
(Poem #1142) In Paris with You
 Don’t talk to me of love.  I’ve had an earful
 And I get tearful when I’ve downed a drink or two.
 I’m one of your talking wounded.
 I’m a hostage. I’m maroonded.
 But I’m in Paris with you.

 Yes, I’m angry at the way I’ve been bamboozled
 And resentful at the mess that I’ve been through.
 I admit I’m on the rebound
 And I don’t care where are we bound.
 I’m in Paris with you.

 Do you mind if we do not go to the Louvre,
 If we say sod off to sodding Notre Dame
 If we skip the champs Elysees
 And remain here in this sleazy
 Old hotel room
 Doing this or that
 To what and whom
 Learning who you are,
 Learning what I am.

 Don’t talk to me of love. Let’s talk of Paris,
 The little bit of Paris in our view.
 There’s that crack across the ceiling
 And the hotel walls are peeling
 And I’m in Paris with you.

 Don’t talk to me of love.  Let’s talk of Paris.
 I’m in Paris with the slightest thing you do.
 I’m in Paris with your eyes, your mouth,
 I’m in Paris with…..all points south.
 Am I embarrassing you?
 I’m in Paris with you.
-- James Fenton

This is one of my recent discoveries by James Fenton, currently holding the
Auden chair at Oxford. A poem about Love which rejects sentimentality and
yet, in its simplicity, manages to convey it all the more. I particularly
love the last verse which substitutes ‘Paris’ for love whilst ‘loving’ love
all the while. Fenton’s gentle and light hearted touch sings a sensual and
loving poem.

Marina Furniss-Roe


  Here's a biography of Fenton:

  An excerpt from his book 'Slave to the Rhythm', on the uses of rhyme:
    [broken link],12098,819318,00.html

105 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Supriya Nair said...

So this is 'Love Disappointed' week, is it?? :))

This poem reminded me of one of those English films from the 50s and 60s, all golden scarves and red lipstick, mercifully faded into dignity by the years. And the miserable gorgeous blonde heroine with the scruffy charmer. Hope fails us when they meet and embark on their seemingly self-destructive tour of the foreign city, and yet, in the end, for our own sakes, we believe they will come together. Of course, they must. Human happiness depends on the Hollywoodish predictability of their fates. And they do!


Kristine said...

My name is Kristine and I live in South Dakota and attend Black Hills State University. We are studying Fenton's poem, In Paris With You. I have been searching the web for any recitations of this particular poem and where I might be able to purchase it. This was the only site I have found that had this poem on it and I noticed that you had e-mailed it in. If you know where I might be able to find it please let me know. Thank you for your time.

The Gibson Gallery said...

you can find the poem in Out of Danger by James fenton, i dont know if this is any good to you anymore. just thought id let you know.

Alexandra said...

This poem is the single best thing I have ever read on new
relationships, on enjoying someone very much although you don't yet love
them (and maybe won't), on when being together with someone is being
elsewhere and far more exciting than going outside. It also rhymes
"sleazy" with "Champs-Elysées", and I love Fenton for that. For that
and for the wonderful coyness - yet absolute directness - of "...all
points south".

I read this down the phone to my girlfriend, what seems like a million
years ago, in an effort to convince her that I wasn't going to start
talking about love or devotion any time soon, and it seemed to work.
Lovely poem.


Anonymous said...

How wierd!

Natasha said...

I picked up my new Anthology book for my English class yesterday and I was flicking through only to come across this poem. I immediatly loved it; as the great romantic as I am. I love the meaning of it especially the last stanza where Paris is Love.

Anonymous said...

natasha goes to my school! :D yay!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

spamm! TROLOLOLOLOL! hahahhahaha :D

Nimit said...

This poem has So much deep meaning especiiaally when u add actions and mime like for 'in paris with you' you can put ur arm around an imaginery person but it can also be viewed as a teapot. This poem was an inspiration for my poem- in chennai with you

Anonymous said...

* imaginary

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Nimitlol said...

This was a very silly activity to participate in - you are very silly azmina

Azmina said...

take me to the gym tommorow

Anonymous said...


Vijay_Crumbs said...

Sorry Azmina
Im with NOUNA

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Anonymous said...

please help me
does anyone know where i can get annotations of the poems in paris with you and gazal by mimi....

thanks will apreciate

Anonymous said...

appreciate it

Anonymous said...

does anyone have any ideas about why the poem is laied out as it is.

Anonymous said...

cuz ur a prik

Sophie said...

I didn't really understand this poem, to be honest I never really understand poetry until some one explains it. But I really love this poem and reading this forum made me understand it.
so thanks to everyone who posted.

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Megan said...

I am currently studying this poem in school, when i got my AQA anthology book, i saw this poem and it stood out.

Anonymous said...

see, i dont know if its just me, but I didnt get the message that all you guys got at all. i saw the poem as one which was a man trying to rekindle a love by looking back and remembering a happier time, in Paris, as it is what he looks back on to compensate for his failing relationship. i think that that is why the middle section is inverted slightly, because I believe that it is a past thought and that he is remembering back to paris with his loved ones. Just by looking at her he is back in paris, when they were young and just getting to know eachother and this is how he forgets all of the bad stuff that is going on in their relationship currently. Just my opinion though, i could be crazy :P

Anonymous said...

WOOOOOO SPAM WOOHOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You guys ever heard of the kings school?

Anonymous said...

I heard that this poem was good until I took an arrow to the knee.

Anonymous said...

Omfg your all idiots its about being sleazy with a younger woman after getting over a long term relationship. He doesnt even want to impress her by taking her around paris to all the original romantic hotspots he just wants to stay in the room so he can fuck her. Hes a sleazy old creep who sickens me with his teasing attitude and his sexual innuendos........

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Libby said...

This is in the AQA GCSE EngLit anthology in the UK, i am studying this in a lot of detail :/
It's about a man who's long term relationship has just ended and he's gone to Paris with another lover for a rebound relationship (meaning he's not committed- he's in the relationship because he just doesn't want to be alone). He is focusing on the present not the past or future.
This poem has direct contrasts between love and this relationship. As someone else said^, he doesn't want to do the sights. The hotel is dodgy (not what you'd expect for a classic romantic weekend)and he makes lots of subtle references to his past relationship and why he's in this relationship, and about not even knowing the other person.

Some websites that are useful:

This comment is from the UK and some of it might not be relevant in the US or Canada etc :/

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