Arguing about which is the best of this or that of Francis Brabazon is not in my best interest so I will say that my favourite ghazal by far is no.76 in In Dust I Sing.
Sometime in the early 90’s one evening after reciting a ghazal of Francis’ at Meherabad after arti a poignant and spiritually enlivening happening occurred.
After the recitation I quietly slipped away to go down to the pilgrim quarters, sitting on the furthest corner of the Mandap opposite the Beloved’s Samadhi was a very elegant refined and intelligent European lady in a state of deep grief. As I walked toward her she looked up in an enquiring manner directly into my eyes.
I stopped and sat alongside this high profile lady whom I had met once previously. She began to quietly unburden herself to me. She was totally dumbstruck that the Beloved’s beautiful Samadhi wasn’t a quiet haven after arti instead of all the singing etc. which had become the norm. I told her I completely understood how she felt and that I was very much in accord with her sentiment.
She felt that what was occurring there was not just irreverent but second rank and not worthy of Avatar Meher Baba.
In listening to her a thought came to me to ask her why she looked up at me in such a beckoning way, she told me how much she loved hearing me read the poem of Francis Brabazon as it had intelligence and was more in keeping with what she felt would please the Beloved.
I then asked her why she wasn’t over at the Samadhi with everyone else. She told me that her spiritual rejection of what she considered was not worthy of Baba seemed to root her to the spot and she felt she couldn’t move and wanted to weep.
I spoke to her lovingly and held her hand gently and told her I was going to tell her something which would definitely help her remember that beyond all the activity she didn’t relish that the Beloved was with us all.
I then put my mouth close to her ear and recited my favourite ghazal of Francis which I knew by heart.
After listening with rapt attention a sigh rose from within her dear heart a lovely smile came to her face and without saying anything she walked briskly through the small crowd at the Beloved’s Samadhi and through the Doorway into His Perfect Silence.
GHAZAL no. 76
I suppose my gallows-humor will not be much relished
By those who like the bare facts of love clothed and embellished.
I am referring to those who prefer tea-talk wayfaring
To the raft and the wave, to blistered feet and sightless staring.
But hasn’t Jesus already told them, Not peace, but a sword?
Do they expect less than death from this Man of the Silent Word?
Jesus was God Absolute—but the Same One here now
Must turn over a vaster anti-God acreage with his plough.
By God! this is no time for talking about how sweetly love grew;
If you escape the bombs, don’t look back—this Man will be stalking you.
For what else do you think he comes to this rotten muck-heap of places?
Do you think he enjoys our stinking breaths and desire-swollen faces?
When you talk tea-talk about love and the beloved you would own,
Each verb you use is a hammer on each coffin-nail of a noun.