I had never reckoned on the Beloved’s infinite courtesies
Which mow down the grass of his lovers to make them into tall trees.
I had expected for my garden a sort of sun that would inspire,
Not a moon ocean-born bending down to set a forest on fire.
I had hoped for a drop of some drink that would exalt me to pure gladness,
Not a cup of this wine which has reduced me to absolute madness.
Now, however, I am in love with fire for it creates thirst,
And wine has so metered and rhymed me that I am wholly versed.
I am amazed that men want to climb mountains and to measure space
Rather than make mirrors to reflect the Beloved’s lovely face.
My Beloved glanced sideways at me, and in that glancing
I beheld the universes of stars and men dancing.
I had never reckoned on the Beloved’s infinite courtesies.
Somehow or other it seems impossible to rise up as far as my knees.
Startling us with strange images and apparent non sequiturs, a poem that makes the encounter with the Beloved quite dazzling.
The gifts of the Master’s love described as ‘courtesies’, the favours from some noble lord or lady, gifts which mow down the rampant crop of our desires to make us grow straight and vertical, the transcendent dimension.
The moon coming up, reflected in the ocean as a million points of silvery fire, burning the forest not with heat but with its radiant beauty. The imagery makes us feel how this encounter disorders the senses.
This is not for mere gladness but to burn the mind and make it burst into song – so ‘wholly versed’ meaning poetic metres and also really well versed in the path. Metre and rhyme are the basic tools used to pass on his intoxications from his Master.
He is incredulous that modern man can attempt the outward exploration and ignore the magic of the self mirroring the self . Dance and music belong to this inner journey.
One sideways glance can do all this. What can we do but lie prostrate before Him?