All You Who Sleep Tonight by VIKRAM SETH

All you who sleep tonight

Far from the ones you love

No hand to left or right,

And emptiness above--


Know that you aren’t alone,

The whole world shares your tears,

Some for two nights or one,

And some for all their years.

Did Vikram Seth write the “Note About the Author” that ends “All You Who Sleep Tonight” (Alfred A. Knopf: $18.95; 66 pp.)? It has some of the concision and simplicity of his verse, opening: “Vikram Seth was trained as an economist. He has lived for several years each in England, California, China and India; the poems in the present volume reflect his understanding of these four cultures.” The title poem is the last and, so placed, suggests that its subject is finally the subject of the book as a whole. Properly so: The heart of any matter for Seth is not its logical point but the corner in it where some real heart beats for love lost or won--but usually lost. These places include, besides the four mentioned in his note, Auschwitz and Lithuania. Writing as an ironic, multicultural, latter-day A.E. Housman, Seth deserves his improbably large audience. copyright 1990, Vikram Seth. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf.