Mistaken – Vikram Seth

I smiled at you because I thought that you 

Were someone else; you smiled back; and there grew 

Between two strangers in a library 

Something that seemes like love; but you loved me 

(If that’s the word) because you thought that I 

Was other than I was. And by and by 

We found we’d been mistaken all the while 

From that first glance, that first mistaken smile.

Distressful Homonyms – Vikram Seth

Since for me now you have no warmth to spare 

I sense I must adopt a sane and spare 
Philosophy to ease a restless state 

Fuelled by this uncaring. It will state 
A very meagre truth: love like the rest 

Of our emotions, sometimes needs a rest. 
Happiness, too, no doubt; and so, why even 

Hope that ‘the course of true love’ could run even?

How Rarely These Few Years – Vikram Seth

How rarely all these few years, as work keeps us aloof, 

Or fares, or one thing or another, 

Have we had days to spend under our parents’ roof: 

Myself my sister, and my brother. 
All five of us will die; to reckon from the past 

This flesh and blood is unforgiving. 

What’s hard is that just one of us will be the last 

To bear it all and go on living.

Round And Round – Vikram Seth

After a long and wretched flight 

That stretched from daylight into night, 

Where babies wept and tempers shattered 

And the plane lurched and whiskey splattered 

Over my plastic food, I came 

To claim my bags from Baggage Claim 
Around, the carousel went around 

The anxious travelers sought and found 

Their bags, intact or gently battered, 

But to my foolish eyes what mattered 

Was a brave suitcase, red and small, 

That circled round, not mine at all. 
I knew that bag. It must be hers. 

We hadnt met in seven years! 

And as the metal plates squealed and clattered 

My happy memories chimed and chattered. 

An old man pulled it of the Claim. 

My bags appeared: I did the same.

Morning Rain – Tu Fu

A slight rain comes, bathed in dawn light. 

I hear it among treetop leaves before mist 

Arrives. Soon it sprinkles the soil and, 

Windblown, follows clouds away. Deepened 
Colors grace thatch homes for a moment. 

Flocks and herds of things wild glisten 

Faintly. Then the scent of musk opens across 

Half a mountain — and lingers on past noon.

Restless Night – Tu Fu

As bamboo chill drifts into the bedroom, 

Moonlight fills every corner of our 

Garden. Heavy dew beads and trickles. 

Stars suddenly there, sparse, next aren’t. 
Fireflies in dark flight flash. Waking 

Waterbirds begin calling, one to another. 

All things caught between shield and sword, 

All grief empty, the clear night passes.

The Passionate Shepherd (Excerpt) – Nicholas Brenton

Who can live in heart so glad 

As the merry country lad? 

Who upon a fair green balk 

May at pleasure sit and walk, 

And amid the azure skies 

See the morning sun arise; 

While he hears in every spring 

How the birds do chirp and sing; 

Or before the hounds in cry 

See the hare go stealing by; 

Or along the shallow brook 

Angling with a baited hook, 

See the fishes leap and play 

In a blessed sunny day; 

Or to hear the partridge call 

Till she have her covey all; 

Or to see the subtle fox, 

How the villain plies the box, 

After feeding on his prey 

How he closely sneaks away 

Through the hedge and down the furrow, 

Till he gets into his burrow; 

Then the bee to gather honey, 

And the little black hair’d coney 

On a bank for sunny place 

With her forefeet wash her face: 

Are not these, with thousands moe 

Than the courts of kings do know, 

The true pleasing-spirits sights 

That may breed true love’s delights?