Poem 29

You have stooped down to heal the roots of the rose’s pain,
To bathe lepers, feed the poor and comfort the insane.

Verse 1 reminding us of all the pictures we have seen of Baba doing just that with the lepers and insane, and recalling the beautiful story of the sacrifice of the nightingale for the rose. Baba goes to the very deepest causes of our pain.

You have shaken out before our eyes prospects of new dawns,
But we, your lovers, have garlanded you with the roses’s thorns.

Verse 2 is like a picture of a merchant shaking out for us some beautiful shawl or carpet design. Baba told of the pain caused Him by our deafness and disobedience. Perhaps ‘roses’s’ should be’rose’s’ but the hissing sound here is quite effective.

Maybe the beasts will invent new scales and melodies;
Our praises are hammers riveting fingers and knees.

How do we do justice to the new Advent when all our tunes spring from old conventions? Vividly Francis conveys how we are still imprisoned in our own mechanical responses in the third couplet. Perhaps renewal of this tires culture can come only from nature.

From the depths we cried to you; from your Beyond-state you came
As a flood of waters, as a column of bright flame.

Baba has come to the Israelites manifesting as flood and s fire, the flood which destroyed Pharaoh’s army, the column of fire that guided them through the wilderness. ‘From the depths’ echoes the psalmist’s cry “Out of the depths  have I cried unto thee, O Lord”.(Ps30:1)  Or we might see this as the twofold aspects of the divine, jamal and jalal.

There’s a place in the heart in which the universe can revolve —
But we have sealed in capsules daring and high resolve.

Verse 5 can refer to the capsules of space exploration: an enormous and futile effort in the poet’s opinion compared with the real journey to open the heart, the microcosm of the universe.

It was inevitable — our final degeneracy —
That having failed God and woman we would invent a monstrous She.

Perhaps the identity of the monstrous ‘She’ is left to the reader. Is ‘She’ progress, sensual desire, greed, a false idea of Nature, or all the things which prevent us from becoming the bride of the Beloved?

The final verse assures us that all our idolatry is a worshiping of the absence we cause, especially in space and distance. That is why the degeneracy of the previous verse was inevitable. Finally is a line of direct imploring.

Your presence is our answer. Why do we nourish our absence?
Speak to us, Beloved, the refreshing Word of your Silence.