An Ode to Vikram Seth’s The Golden Gate

When the inimitable Mr Seth,
penned that beauty, The Golden Gate,
little did he dream that one day he would,
inspire a rhyme, that if it could,
serve as an ode to that gorgeous book,
and inspire others to take a look,

at a city he spied from across the bay,
its skyline rising on a gorgeous day,
from Indian rock out there in Berkeley,
or from the top of the campanile,
the fog framing its rolling hills,
lending its residents some shivers and chills,
and inspiring him, as if in a dream,
to voice his thoughts in a stream,
and pen a tale like none before,
one that would go down in lore.

When I first heard of this story in verse,
in iambic pentameter, and not at all terse,
I was in awe, as some thoughts arose,
grasping a book in poetry, not prose,
for the last of the epics that I knew with rhymes,
had been written in ancient times,
here was someone starting afresh,
and competing with the likes of Gilgamesh,
I decided then it was worth a read,
who knows after all, where it would lead?

and so one day, after a copy was mine,
I sat down to read, while it was still sunshine,
the pages, they went flying quickly past,
the next much more alluring than the last,
telling the tale with much charm and style,
with wit and verse taking it that extra mile,
the story of four friends, John and Jan,
Liz and Phil, and even Paul, the also-ran,
weaving the ups and downs of modern life,
of love and laughter, and of trouble and strife,
into a tapestry of colors bound together so well,
that the rhyme you read, must on it dwell.

The twists of fate they say have a will of their own,
and that you reap the seeds you’ve sown,
but I personally think these thoughts quite trite,
even though I may someday believe them right,
it’s hard not to get yourself drawn,
into the story, as it goes merrily on,
and pause to reflect on what things might’ve been,
if you yourself had been in the scene,

for, would you be that dreamer John,
on whom many a woman would fawn?
or perhaps you have all the charm and fizz,
of that lovable lawyer girl, Liz,
where would you be if your life was Phil’s,
trod upon, but bearing life no ills,
or for that matter, the sensible artist Jan,
making sculptures and paintings only as she can?

The tale is over then, it’s been sublime,
this quintessential californian novel in rhyme,
has done what it tried to strive
for, brought our four friends alive,
one is sad that this comes to pass,
the last page is finally turned, alas.

One day, walking around Dolores Park,
ideally of course, when it’s getting dark,
there is a spot where you can stand,
with someone you love, perhaps, close at hand,
and stare across, to the twinkling lights,
taking in the beautiful sights,
the bridge in the distance, all aglow,
zigzagging lights, a crown on show,

your mind’s at peace, your face a smile,
without you realizing all this while,
the wind blows from across the bay,
the trees in front of you lightly sway,
a fog horn in the distance calls,
and slowly then, a silence falls,
this enchanting city yet again enthralls,
a dreamer, but this time within its walls,
to pen a rhyme about this city fair,
the golden gate looks on, from somewhere out there.


PS. With all due inspiration to Vikram Seth.