I who was one of the sons of God now dwell in dust;
God is the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Just.
My shout (with the other sons) was my act of separation;
Reunion would require an immense journey to reach self-abnegation.
And beloved God covered my nakedness with loving care
And sent me out to earn bread through sweat and song through despair;
Promising me a distant garden and the voice a nightingale
And a moonlit night to tell to the rose of his heart journey’s sweet tale.
Beloved God has kept his promise—and the time has not been long
From the cry of that leave-taking and his listening to my song.
The silver fountain murmurs and the breeze is scented with pine;
At the end of each song my Beloved fills my cup with wine.
God is the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Just:
He transmutes fire into dew, and dew into singing dust.
Stanza 1: The first sentence of the Quran is “In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate”. The ‘Just’ underlines Francis’ acceptance of his position of utter lowliness, subjection and surrender.
Stanza 2: To describe the great effulgence at the moment of creation as the stars ‘shout, the shout of the Sons of God is an enormous leap forward over the name given by modern journalism, the Big Bang. Words really influence the ways in which we imagine things. This primal separation would require the sacrifice, by us fragments, of all self blindness, the sacrifice of the whole illusion of separateness.
Stanza 3: In Genesis, Adam and Eve, become ashamed of their nakedness after the Fall and are expelled from the Garden to have to earn living by the sweat of their brow.
Here God clothes him, the spirit of immaterial energies, with bodies, so that he can have consciousness and make the great effort of eating and being eaten, experiencing the pain that would drive him into song – self-consciousness.
Stanza 4: The dream of beauty and of a return to paradisal origins drives him on through the evolutionary journey. This is the goad of love.
Stanza 5: The discovery through the full consciousness of the Beloved has suddenly transcended the immense epic journey through time into a timeless moment of the Beloved responding to his song.
Stanza 6: His song of praise and love recreates the paradisal centre where the intimate gift of the Beloved’s presence is once more real.
Stanza 7: Through the great fires of creation has emerged the dew like gentleness of God’s mercy which falling on the one who becomes as dust transforms him into singing dust, singing the song of who he is. His fire transmutes to slake our thirst for Being.
Francis speaks of his personal experience of giving songs to Meher Baba, but the poem makes the song the very core of our response to having unlimited consciousness as humans. If as dust we sing the song of separation and return He fills our cup with His wine.
The sweet economy and intricacy here shows just what poetry can do and why in traditional civilisations it has been central to the communicating of the spiritual path.