Sudden and swift I hear
A distant avalanche.
The last stars disappear.
The blue snows flush and blanch.

As shadows, then as mass,
The mountains of Garhwal
Serrate and curve by pass
And peak towards Nepal.

The rising mist now fills
The forest rifts below:
Peninsulas of hills,
And lakes of fluid snow.

Oak, rhododendron, pine
And cedar freed from night
Recede in a design
As visionless as white.

© 1990 Vikram Seth

This poem is reproduced with kind permission of the author.

Vikram Seth
was born in India and educated here and in England, California and China.  He has written acclaimed books in several genres: verse novel, animal fables and epic novel.  All his published works – The Golden Gate, A Suitable Boy, An Equal Music, From Heaven Lake, Beastly Tales, Arion and the Dolphin, The Humble Administrator’s Garden, Mappings, three Chinese Poets and Two Lives – are available with Penguin India.

Hill Dawn was first published in Vikram Seth’s collection All You Who Sleep Tonight, published by Viking/Penguin, 1990.  To purchase this collection please go to or