Critical Analysis of Round and Round

Critical Analysis of Round and Round by Vikram Seth

Critical Analysis of Round and Round : Vikram Seth’s poem, “Round and Round’ deals with the poets journey by plane and it also presents his perturbed state of mind during and after his journey. He has been considered as one of the leading Indo-Anglian poet, novelist, and travel-writer in the arena of English literature. The poem is a short lyric presenting the poet’s experiences in his journey by plane with a dash of reminiscences.

As a modern poet, Vikram Seth was greatly influenced by the writings of Thomas Hardy, and the renowned Georgian poet, Philip Larkin. The poet has been applauded for his entertaining and versatile style of writing. He produced volumes of poems such as, “Mappings” in 1981, and “The Humble Administrator’s Garden” in 1985 which reflects his encounter with his own and alien cultures and values.

Critical Analysis of Round and Round

The poet has also composed a tale of Californian life in his famous verse-novel called “The Golden gate” which is set in San Francisco. It comprises sonnet-stanzas. It was published in 1986. Vikram Seth received Thomas Cook Award for his travelogue called “From Heaven Lake: Travels through Sinkiang and Tibet” published in 1983. Vikram Seth’s novel, “A Suitable Boy” has been written in the realist tradition. It is set in India during the period of Partition.


Vikram Seth’s poem “Round and Round” depicts the poet’s longing for his beloved who was probably separated from him in the past. The sweet memories of his relationship with her are spoiled by the hullaballoo of the children on the flight. The poet has also ironically remarks on the modern life-style which is characterized by lack of love and affection in society. He has artistically employed a few images in the poem in satiric vein with a flavour of humour.

The poem “Round and Round” begins with the description of the poet’s long and dull journey by plane. The poet tells us that it was quite a boring and cumbersome journey; it took almost twelve hours to reach the destination. He indirectly indicates that the journey was not a pleasant experience for him for he was disturbed and distressed by the crying babies on the plane and the noise of their bad-tempered mothers. He was also restless due to the jerks of the plane which made it difficult for the people to enjoy their drinks. He says:

“After a long and wretched flight

That stretched from daylight into night,

Where babies wept and tempers shattered

And the plane lurched and whisky splattered

Over my plastic food, I came

To claim my bags from Baggage claim.”

 Owing to the hullabaloo of the children and the jerky travel of the plane the poet could not have his food and drink properly. The whisky splashed all over his “plastic food’.

The poet has dexterously employed the words, “plastic food” in order to suggest artificial life-style in modern days. The food seems to have no warmth of love and affection and it is made up of plastic. It is lifeless, dry and tasteless because it lacks warmth of affection and love. It is ready-made food wrapped in plastic covering. The poet has probably suggested the over-use of machines in modern times.

The poet also tells the readers that he is away from home and could not get the affection and love from anybody. In modern days, he has to consume machine made ‘plastic food’, though it lacks care, affection, and even nutrition. The lines may also suggest the modern way of life which has become dull and boring.

At the airport, the poet went to the carousel to collect his luggage. It moved round and round,. The passengers stood around the carousel waiting for their bags. They were anxious and restless to receive their luggage. Some of the bags were good condition, but the others were damaged. The bags were moving on the carousel.

“Around, the carousel went around,

The anxious travellers 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.” 

But the poet’s sight fell on a small red bad. He called it a ‘brave suitcase’; he recognized the bag at once. He thought that it belonged to his beloved. He had not met her in seven years. He had separated from her in the course of his life. The poet has deliberately used some words which give the readers some idea of his relationship. The words such as ‘brave suitcase’ small, and red vividly give the information about the poet’s beloved that she was brave, beautiful, and slender.

“I knew that bag. It must be hers.

We hadn’t met in seven years!

And as the steel plates squealed and clattered

My happy memories chimed and chattered.

An old man pulled it off the Claim.

My bags appeared; I did the same.”    

But now he could remembers her at the glance of the bag. Even amidst the noise of the steel plates, he could remember his beloved. Here the noise and steel plates symbolizes the hustle and bustle of the world. At last an old man took that bag. Soon, the poet could see his own bags. He also pulled his bags off the carousel.

Rhyme Scheme and Figures of Speech:

In this way, the poem presents an intense experience of life. The poem is full of subtle images and symbols. The casual style of writing makes the poem more interesting. The poet has employed many figures of speech life transferred epithetonomatopoeia, and alliteration with a rhyme scheme {aa, bb, cc}.

The readers can also find fine use of figure of speech ‘onomatopoeia’ like ‘splatter, clatter, squeal, and chimed in order to get desired musical effect. With the employment of words such as ‘plastic food’, ‘brave suitcase’ and ‘foolish eyes’, the poet has conveyed his ideas in a subtle manner. The poet’s remembrance of his lost love adds sweet flavour to the poem.


Vikram Seth’s poem “Round and Round” is highly suggestive as it gives the readers an idea of lack of love and affection in modern times. The poet has artistically conveyed his yearning for his lost love which he recalls even in the midst crowd; but he has to continue his routine work like machines and forget his past. The simple and lucid expressions of the poet make the poem interesting and appealing to the readers.

Read it also: Literary Magazines and Periodicals

1 thought on “Critical Analysis of Round and Round”

Leave a Comment