Dec. 2, 2014: DARK NIGHT AND SILENT (Vikram Seth)

Dear readers,

I’ve read about 300 sonnets in the past 5 days, but not, NOT, I assure you, on purpose. A fellow reader (thank you, Katie P.!) recently gave me a copy of Vikram Seth’s 1986 novel “Golden Gate,” composed entirely in rhymed tetrameter sonnets. There are 2 per page, and he just takes you on through the characters and events and dialogue of a normal contemporary novel, only in 14 line sections, rhymed and measured. They fairly fly by. Some of them sound a little silly. Some of them are merely functional. Some of the characters’ lines make one think, “No one talks like that.” And then some are from the author’s point of view, and some from an omniscient narrator. And some hold up all on their own as free-standing lyrics. This is one of the latter, which I happened upon while reading in bed last night, appropriately. As someone who gets a little testy without his regular 9 hours, I related to this! -ed.

“Dark Night and Silent”

Dark night and silent, calm, and lovely,

That stills the efforts of our lives,

Rare, excellent-kind, and behovely . . .

No matter how the poet strives

To weave with epithets and clauses

Your soundless web, he falters, pauses,

And your enchantment slips between

His hands, as if it’s never been.

Of all times most imbued with beauty,

You lend us by your spell relief

From ineradicable grief

(If for a spell), and pain, and duty.

We sleep, and nightly are made whole

In all our fretted mind and soul.


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