Although Paris is often thought of as the city of love, James Fenton opens his poem, ‘In Paris With You’, with the sentence “Don’t talk to me of love”. He appears to be getting over a broken relationship, saying “I’ve had an earful / And I get tearful”. Rather than both words of the rhyming pair coming at the end of lines, “tearful” is in the middle of the second line. The rhymes seem to give a lighter atmosphere to the first stanza, although Fenton is feeling upset. However, in the last line of the stanza, Fenton seems to be feeling more optimistic when he says, “But I’m in Paris with you”.
In the second stanza Fenton makes it quite clear that he is “on the rebound”. He uses alliteration in the phrase “I’ve been bamboozled”. Fenton is angry at the way he has been treated and refers to his previous relationship as a “mess”. Once again, the tone towards the end of the stanza becomes more upbeat since he has met someone new and they are together in Paris. In this stanza he shows self pity, “Yes I’m angry at the way I’ve been bamboozled and resentful at the mess I’ve been through. Fenton is not in the least bit interested in sightseeing, and is insulting of Paris’ famous attractions in the third stanza. He uses enjambment to link the end of the third stanza to the beginning of the fourth, commenting that he would rather stay in the “sleazy” hotel room than go to see the sights. No matter how horrible the room is compared to the beautiful attractions of Paris, he wants to spend time there with the person he has met. Fenton closes the fourth stanza with the idea that he will learn more about his companion as well as about himself.
The fifth stanza opens with the phrase “Don’t talk to me of love. ” Fenton was in love previously but doesn’t want to get emotionally involved in his new relationship. He wants to talk about Paris “in our view”, but what they can actually see is a crack in the ceiling and paint peeling off the walls of the hotel room. This is the reality, and Fenton doesn’t appear to be bothered by it as he closes the stanza once again with the line “And I’m in Paris with you”. The sixth and final stanza opens with a repeat of the first line of the fifth tanza, “Don’t talk to me of love. Let’s talk of Paris”. In the next three lines Fenton uses the word “Paris” three times as a substitute or metaphor for the word love when he says, for example, “I’m in Paris with the slightest thing you do”. Fenton ends the poem as we might expect with the statement, “I’m in Paris with you”. James Fenton makes effective use of repetition and rhyme to convey his thoughts in his poem “In Paris With You”. Rhyme is not used regularly, and the poem has a more natural feel because of this.
In the fourth stanza the rhyming words “room” and “whom” are at the end of the first and third lines rather than consecutive lines. The stanzas are of irregular length, and it is noticeable that the lines of the fourth stanza are all very short, adding emphasis his desire for a physical relationship with his new partner. Throughout the poem, Fenton tries to convince himself that he loves the woman that he is with, by using the line “I’m in Paris with you”. We see how he is physically attracted to this woman.
The line “Let’s talk of Paris,” is a euphemism for his lust for this woman. “In Paris With You” does have a lightness about it, even though the memories of the recent failed relationship stimulate anger. Fenton conveys the excitement and freshness of the start of a new relationship, the eagerness to get to know a person he appears to have just met. Being with that person is what matters above all. The grand places of the capital city of France have no importance; he would rather be in a shabby hotel as long as he is with that special person.