Gerard Smyth

Sojourn

Gerard Smyth

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I was a free man in Paris,
I felt unfettered and alive
– Joni Mitchell


Little by little I learned the map
and followed its routes, using it to the full
until the map was part of me
and written into the chronicle of my sojourn.
Dull days and days of radiance,
of walking on and on between the traces
of regency and revolution, reading inscriptions
and reading the stains on Danton’s orations
in second-hand bookstores by the Seine.

Little by little I learned the map:
the holy places and secular temples, 
the long road down from Belleville
to visit Proust and Wilde and Eluard.
Little by little I learned the map: 
the riverside kiosks with their battered
editions of Jean Paul Sartre, 
the bridge of “love locks” and where to avoid 
the marching mob and riot squads 
by taking backstreets not in the guide 
because they are ways that never catch the sun.


Gerard Smyth


Gerard Smyth is a poet, critic and journalist whose poetry has appeared widely in journals in Ireland, Britain and the United States as well as in translation in several languages including Italian, Romanian, French, German, Ukrainian, Spanish and Hungarian.  He has published eight collections of poetry, including, A Song of Elsewhere ( Dedalus Press 2015), and The Fullness of Time: New and Selected Poems ( Dedalus Press, 2010 ). He was the 2012 recipient of the O’Shaughnessy Poetry Award presented by the University of St Thomas in Minnesota and is co-editor, with Pat Boran, of If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song ( Dedalus Press ) which was Dublin’s One City One Book in 2013. He is a member of Aosdána.