Poets are queer fellows who go to a lot of trouble
Trying to describe to us their particular bubble.

They tell us nothing that we do not already know,
But they think that their saying it really makes it so.

Each one of our bubbles is essentially the same—
Just different color mixtures with a different name,

Different experiences of hunger and thirst;
Of what interest the tale, when each bubble must burst?

If singing doesn’t take one into love’s divine presence,
Of what avail the smoke of words offered as incense?

I-talk momentarily brightens the bubble;
But only its denial lightens its trouble.

Set sail! Set sail! Steer into the teeth of the storm’s violence:
There also is the kiss that seals all lips in silence.


The purpose of real art is not to celebrate the subjectivity of each of our own world experiences, our own individual cosmos. It is to remind us of our longing to dissolve into the ocean. Francis disliked the vanity and solipsism of much contemporary poetry.

The poem is attractive and fun partly because the poet lumps himself in with the others in describing the futility of poetic incense.

But in fact his purpose is the denial of ‘I-talk’ and the affirming of singing which takes us to the divinity found in real love. He uses words to point to the beyond words’ experience. And no comforting incense here, but the advice to steer into the teeth of the storm.

We perhaps need to remember God is present even within the frail bubble as the next poem makes clear.

» ghazal #12 »