I leave those to desire union who have taken leave of their senses—
The flame of their love is still smothered by the smoke of recompenses.
In dust I sing: that, I conceive, is the ideal station—
A tempered tongue expressing the eye’s bright jubilation.
Pleading for union unmans a man; protesting love is absurd,
For the night and the wave will make a mockery of that word.
Times when I turned from the path to take the worm-way of crawl-cry,
I found myself shut out by the steel door of a fragile eye.
There’s only one way to overcome the giants and the beast—
Become so much nothing that you’re less than Jesus’ ‘the least’.
When you can hide among the grains of dust, the very worst
That can befall is some dragon’s hoof—but at least you’ll be housed!
And should this happen while you are watching before the wineshop door,
Rejoice! The Master may call it in and give it space on the floor.
A basic problem on the path is that we all want union and we all tend to lament, especially if our desire is an imperative one.
‘A tempered tongue expressing the eye’s bright jubilation’ is a good summation of much of the best of Francis’ poetry. He is championing balance and control rather than emotional indulgence. If we try to be extravagantly humble we tend to be clobbered by the dark contents of our hidden unconscious. The night and the wave are these dark impulses.
Even if you do get devoured by some dragon, don’t be anxious, Baba is in control and will receive those who become like contented dust. And worry not, the dragon itself might be invited into the tavern!
‘The steel door of a fragile eye’ suggest an eye not open to the energy of the bright jubilation of the first stanza. Being obsessed with one’s own unworthiness is a barrier preventing true selflessness. For Jesus’ ‘the least’, see Mt.25:40 where he says God will not forget those who have been kind to the least of the brethren.