Three Poems Inspired by George Herbert, by Vikram Seth

Vikram Seth, author of the lyrical feast Golden Gate, gives us some monosyllabic poems inspired by George Herbert and tells of the source of the inspiration (via Amitava Kumar):


I heard it was for sale and thought I’d go
To see the old house where
He lived three years, and died. How could I know
Its stones, its trees, its air,
The stream, the small church, the dark rain would say:
“You’ve come; you’ve seen; now stay.”

“A guest?” I asked. “Yes, as you are on earth.”
“The means?” “. . . will come, don’t fear.”
“What of the risk?” “Our lives are that from birth.”
“His ghost?” “His soul is here.”
“He’ll change my style.” “Well, but you could do worse
Than rent his rooms of verse.”

Joy came, and grief; love came, and loss; three years –
Tiles down; moles up; drought; flood.
Though far in time and faith, I share his tears,
His hearth, his ground, his mud;
Yet my host stands just out of mind and sight,
That I may sit and write.