Poem 68

A most moving poem. In writing of great clarity and economy he expresses a state of helplessness and resignation, where God is only felt as an absence, as the force behind the projector, and the bringer of the deluge.

It opens in a desert place, a dryness where the sound of water is an illusion as if we were in the midst of a mirage, a total contrast to his ‘ardent’ expectations. Yet note how beautifully the sentences flow with their elegant structure and their variously placed four stresses to the line, and how the verses lead into each other.

He then takes up the figure used by Baba of the illusory world being like the projected film, yet taken by most as real. Strong feeling breaks out in the third verse, the world full of pitiful desires and meanness. People pray to God not realizing the whole projection springs from Him.

But Francis knows that the whole thing, even intense lyric moments and draughts of intoxication, is more or less part of seeming. He settles down to wait with patient resignation for the coming flood. This will not just be a cleansing disaster but a flood of mercy to cure all dryness.

Not among stones with the noise of false waters in my ears
Did I reckon would be the harvest of my ardent years.

Yet in this desert I have learned what few men come to know,
That the world and its works are nothing but a cinema show:

Shadows lit with love-burning, shadows pitiful and mean,
Dancing, limping and shuffling across a cosmic screen.

And the one to whom they pray as Inspirer and Protector
Is the Man in the box at the back working the projector.

Yes, I have done better than most with the moments of lyric chances:
I used once to visit a wineshop where were poured cups of love-glances.

That was also illusion — the better part of dreaming,
In which Reality was covered only thinly with seeming.

Now there is only the long wait (what matter in desert or green plain?)
For the world and myself to be swept away in another forty days rain.