not talking of love

Hurtling as we are towards Valentine's day and those depressingly dutiful, standardised, expressions of love, this Fenton poem offers a comicly earthy twist on love - and sightseeing. Because, let's be honest, travelling somewhere engrossing and diverting during those early days is simply a waste of time. A room or two, some food. That's all you need. That's all I need now. Oh sigh. Now I've gone and stirred up stirrings. 

I'm going to think instead of Devon and the first time I heard this. That night when another road wasn't taken. 


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 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 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 and that

To what and to 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


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Reader Comments (4)

ugh, I really don't like the manufactured 'love' of Valentine's Day. This poem is perfect.
February 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHila
This made me think of Hemingway.
February 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTracy
This makes me think of how a place is so much more than its landmarks. When we travel, our memory of the place is all about the experience we had, both inside and out, what we tasted, what the temperature felt like to us, what and who we touched (a forearm, a tangerine), doing this and that...looking up at cracks across the ceiling. You've sent me wandering...
February 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDenise | Chez Danisse
Hila, the ornery side of me rebels at being told to express love on a certain day ;) This poem is so tongue in cheek - emphasised by the simplistic rhyme (maroonded!) - but it resonates.

Tracy, Hemingway - I hadn't thought about it. But I see what you mean. I would have loved to be sitting in a bar when Hemingway was there: and observing. As with Picasso. Too scary to think of having to interact with them!

Denise, do you know the Louis MacNiece September section of 'Autumn Journal'? 'all of London is littered with her kisses'. So, for me, all of Brussels is scattered with the fallout of an impending breakup... I agree utterly that place is embedded with emotion - the whole reduced to an afternoon; a crack in the ceiling. Now I'm wandering.
February 12, 2012 | Registered Commenterlittle house

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