Friday, October 25, 2013

I Wish I'd Written This

A Style Of Loving

By Vikram Seth

Light now restricts itself
To the top half of trees;
The angled sun
Slants honey-coloured rays
That lessen to the ground
As we bike through
The corridor of Palm Drive
We two

Have reached a safety the years
Can claim to have created:
Unconsumated, therefore
Unjaded, unsated.
Picnic, movie, ice-cream;
Talk; to clear my head
Hot buttered rum - coffee for you;
And so not to bed

And so we have set the question
Aside, gently.
Were we to become lovers
Where would our best friends be?
You do not wish, nor I
To risk again
This savoured light for noon's
High joy or pain. 

Vikram Seth is probably better known as a novelist — though his first published novel, The Golden Gate, was in verse. He is most famous for A Suitable Boy, a very thick novel indeed, set in his native India. It's the only work of his I had read — and thoroughly enjoyed — until a friend recently introduced me to his poetry, which I find just as captivating. 

Since childhood he has lived in both India and England and now divides his time between residences in both places. He studied at Oxford; then went to Stanford University in California where he studied first Economics then Creative Writing. At Nanjing University in China he studied classical Chinese poetry. He speaks a number of languages and writes in several, but describes English as his 'instrument'. It's not the only one. He plays the Indian flute and the cello, and sings German lieder, particularly Schubert (so Wikipedia informs us). The biography at PoemHunter describes him as poet, novelist, travel writer, librettist, children's writer, biographer and memoirist. He identifies as bisexual and has been active in working for anti-homosexual law reform in India.

One thing I like about this and all his poetry is his facility with rhyme; something I am always in awe of when it's done well. I also have great sympathy with the sentiments expressed, having reached a time of life when I too value the 'savoured light' of time spent with friends above the 'high joy and pain' of any new romance. And he says it so sweetly, doesn't he?

You can find more of his poems at PoemHunter and his books at Amazon. The 25 poems at PoemHunter are also available for free download in pdf (you bet I did!) and if you Google A Suitable Boy, it is available for free download for Kindle, or in epub or pdf versions.

Seth is interviewed here about his novel An Equal Music, and his (fiction) writing process.

Any poem or photo used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remains the property of the copyright holder (usually its author).


  1. Love that poem thanks for the introduction.

  2. Love his style. Will have to research

    Gracias for introducing him

  3. Oh I didnt know he was a poet as well. This poem speaks to a profound topic: the perhaps unspoken decision to keep the best friend and not risk the friendship by a foray into the possible highs and lows of an intimate relationship.

  4. Lovely poem. Subtle and poignant

  5. Oh. Bless you. You give us the Best! This is a treat, a total joy.

  6. That was a wonderful poem, Rosemary. Thank you for this.

  7. He is the most celebrated author of moderns times in India and many youngsters like his work.

  8. As always, I am so glad you all enjoyed the poem. By a remarkable writer, for sure!

  9. That's a beautiful sharing, Rosemary. He's an acclaimed author who divides his time between UK and India. I loved reading his novel The Golden gate too!

  10. I didn't know he wrote poetry also. I love the depth of exploration here, and his facility with language... Thanks, Rosemary

  11. thanks for sharing, Rosemary. lovely poem, enjoyed the read.


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