When the wheel of fortune stopped at my number I did not ask
Another turn—it had completed its billion years’ task.

When, on that billionth year night, love came to me I did not seek
Another brow of dreams and honeyed mouth and petalled cheek

I fear that faithfulness will be the cause of my undoing—
In this dark night I cannot be comforted by other wooing.

Even now I am as an ant under a horse’s hoof—
A safe enough place, but one from which I cannot move.

When our house is destroyed it’s certain that we will remain living.
Why don’t men grasp this simple truth and put an end to grieving?

Astronomy’s and agriculture’s accomplishment is in proving
That under no circumstances can death quit one of loving.

The wheel of fortune may turn (as in my case) for a billion years
Before it stops at your number and your true Beloved appears.


A fairly detached and thoughtful exposition of the personal response to a vast perspective of the wheel of time. To see clearly what the wheel is, is to have escape from it a possibility.

Astronomy has revealed to us the vastness of time and agriculture the reality of the pattern of ceaseless return. Francis is speaking from the vantage point of one who no longer wants earthly prizes. The jackpot is when the beloved appears. But then you are the beloved’s slave; this is the culmination of your billion turns. Once you have realized how bereft you are in the darkness of the night of separation all you want is the safety of being that slave.

No garden of heavenly delights here, just a simple recognition of what it is all really about. How remarkable, freedom from illusion means becoming the slave of the beloved.

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