Though your Joseph has gone away and your cheeks with hot tears burn,
Do not neglect your mirror—for one day he will return.
Though the sun has fled and the long nights are cold and desolate,
Do not cease to weave a wreath of new songs for love’s timeless date.
Your night of bliss was laid down at the beginning of time;
For ages men have labored that they might enclose it in rhyme.
Don’t let the promises of that old man Hope turn your young head—
He has only one thing in mind, to bring you to his bed.
Though the orchard seems ruined under the winter hail—
The time must come when each tree wears its bridal veil.
Though drought puts iron bands round the earth and her mouth is wounded—
The rain must fall that the horn of the wheat shall be sounded.
There is no room for hopes and fears when the issue is certain;
The scene for Joseph’s Return is being set up behind the curtain.
The beauty of Joseph and the grief felt by his father Jacob at his loss is told in both the Bible and the Koran. This series of comfortings reconciles us to those moments when the incarnate wonder of the divine seems inaccessible.
Men labour with rhymes because as with all sacred art it is a reminder of the ever present reality and presence of the Divine Substance even when it is veiled by appearances. The beauty of the rhythms and images here is a heart reminder of the beauty that returns to life again and again.
The accidentals of our own subjective feelings are nothing compared to the certainty of the hidden mercies of providence. Redemption is the reality, not the veils which obscure it. The poet’s clarity of expression gives a feeling of wisdom and objectivity. There is no room for hope because the fact of our redemption is a certainty.