Round And Round

After a long and wretched flight
That stretched from daylight into night,
Where babies wept and tempers shattered
And the plane lurched and whiskey splattered
Over my plastic food, I came
To claim my bags from Baggage Claim

Around, the carousel went around
The anxious travelers sought and found
Their bags, intact or gently battered,
But to my foolish eyes what mattered
Was a brave suitcase, red and small,
That circled round, not mine at all.

I knew that bag. It must be hers.
We hadnt met in seven years!
And as the metal plates squealed and clattered
My happy memories chimed and chattered.
An old man pulled it of the Claim.
My bags appeared: I did the same.

by Vikram Seth

Comments (2)

John Gay has many voices- wry, satiric, gently humorous, romantic, unhappy, gleeful. His style changes with his attitude but his word choices are always perfect. Enjoyed Ian Fraser's comment below
Judging by the low scores submitted, this delicious poem is not well understood by modern readers. It is in a style called mock-heroic which was very popular among the 18th century satirists. Swift, a friend of Gay's, uses it extensively in Gulliver's Travels for example. In it seemingly trivial events, in this case the death of a pet dog are blown up out of all proportion to satirize their subject. Despite his teasing style Gay was capable of some very barbed criticism, as here in the final couplet, and his work was temporarily banned by the government of the day for its seditious content.