A Lesser-Known Poem by Vikram Seth that You Must Know Of

Novelist, poet, activist Vikram Seth was born in Calcutta on June 20, 1952. Known for his lyrical, poetic style of writing, conjuring images with words, Seth writes about sensitive issues of the society and draws largely from his personal life. A Sahitya Akademi and Padma Shri awardee, Vikram Seth is one of the most celebrated names in the Indian literary circles, not just on home turf but globally too.

Here is a lesser-known poem from his collection of poems, All You Who Sleep Tonight.


I shall die soon, I know.

This thing is in my blood.

It will not let me go.

It saps my cells for food.


It soaks my nights in sweat

And breaks my days in pain.

No hand or drug can treat

These limbs for love or gain.


Love was the strange first cause

That bred grief in its seed,

And gain knew its own laws—

To fix its place and breed.


He whom I love, thank God,

Won’t speak of hope or cure.

It would not do me good.

He sees that I am sure.


He knows what I have read

And will not bring me lies.

He sees that I am dead.

I read it in his eyes.


How am I to go on—

How will I bear this taste,

My throat cased in white spawn—

These hands that shake and waste?


Stay by my steel ward bed

And hold me where I lie.

Love me when I am dead

And do not let me die.

— Vikram Seth

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