All You Who Sleep Tonight
Author: Vikram Seth
Publisher: Vintage books
Publishing Date: 5 May 1990 (first published); 18 June 1991 (re-published)
Cost: Rs. 95.72 (Kindle edition)
This book consists of a collections of poems. This collection is grouped into five sections:
- Romantic Residues, poems which reflect on feelings of love and their effects, or after-effects.
- In Other Voices, poems from the viewpoint of people in other times and places, such as a doctor in Hiroshima on the day of the atomic bomb.
- In Other Places, poems about places and people encountered in his travels.
- Quatrains, four-line poems on themes as diverse as insomnia and table manners.
- Meditations of the Heart, ranging from admiration of the Russian dissident poet Irina Ratushinskaya to the title poem of the volume.
In All You Who Sleep Tonight Seth delves into the varieties of Love- love lost, remembered, and deferred. Vikram Seth evokes the unspeakable ironies of Auschwitz and the light-blasted streets of Hiroshima. He conducts the reader through Lion Grove in Suzhou, China, and across the Golden Gate Bridge on its fiftieth anniversary. Throughout, he displays the lyricism and attentiveness that distinguish the best poets of every era.
The poem ‘All you who sleep Tonight” speaks a universal language. It tells you that no one is actually isolated while they are going through this journey of life. There are many uncanny, indiscernible factors protecting, loving, guiding and taking care of us.
The poet introduces ‘the harsh realities’ of lives. He talks about how change is the only constant and things in our lives are bound to change no matter how a person likes it or not. The loved ones in our lives are not there to stay forever. We need to make peace with that and move on in life accepting this reality.
The poet romanticises about the concept of after-life. He informs his readers that ‘Separation’ is true but after death, the person takes the form of a star so, if one misses the deceased, they can always look up in the sky and feel content.
This poem consists of only two stanzas each having four lines. The first line rhymes with the third and the second with the fourth. The poems have a pleasing, plaintive and heart rendering tone to it, but it sure teaches about life a lot.
About the Author:
Born in 1952 in Calcutta, India, Vikram Seth was educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, Stanford University and Nanjing University.
He has travelled widely and lived in Britain, California, India and China. His first novel, The Golden Gate: A Novel in Verse (1986), describes the experiences of a group of friends living in California. His acclaimed epic of Indian life, A Suitable Boy (1993), won the WH Smith Literary Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book). Set in India in the early 1950s, it is the story of a young girl, Lata, and her search for a husband. An Equal Music (1999) is the story of a violinist haunted by the memory of a former lover. Vikram Seth is also the author of a travel book, From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet (1983), an account of a journey through Tibet, China and Nepal that won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, and a libretto, Arion and the Dolphin: A Libretto (1994), which was performed at the English National Opera in June 1994, with music by Alec Roth. Apart from All You Who Sleep Tonight: Poems (1990), his poetry includes Mappings (1980) and The Humble Administrator's Garden (1985) that was the winner of the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia). His children's book, Beastly Tales from Here and There (1992), consists of ten stories about animals told in verse.
Vikram Seth's latest works include Two Lives (2005), a memoir of the marriage of his great uncle and aunt, and Summer Requiem (2015), a book of poems.