All lovers are poets: only some have voices and some do not.
They are the Life-tree’s sap thrusting beyond materialism’s rot.

They are flags of innocence above the marshes of corruption.
They are white sails on the shark-infested waters of religion.

Their purity protects them from the false, the outworn and the shoddy,
For they woo a divine beloved though they imprison him in a body.

Give us time, Beloved, give us time to rightly read and obey your sign—
For you yourself have said that true vision is only in your gift of wine.

Give us one drop to make a flame in the dark of our trouble;
Give us one glass and we will reduce the temple to rubble.

If now we are intoxicated with some fair face,
Your Word will sing us clean and prepare us for your Grace.

All lovers are poets; and poetry is the state of perfect trust.
In the end the green sap, the flags and the sails turn into singing dust.


‘All lovers are poets’

As the end of the poem makes clear he is talking about real lovers here who serve the beloved.

Such love brings both creative freedom and discipline, prerequisites of poetry and art. Love alone enables growth soaring above the quagmire of materialistic denial in modern culture. ‘Flags’ can mean tall leafy plants like irises which grow in marsh land. 

Stanzas two and three are lovely praises of lovers, but following these we have reminders it is all in the Master’s grace and his dispensing of higher influences or wine. We aspire but still from the body must face our own darkness and attachments to the relative good.

Poetry itself and all its images finally become just dust’s offerings to the Beloved.

Taking this image of dust from Hafiz and others where it repeatedly is invoked, Francis uses it, not derivatively but straight from his own deepest sufferings and ideals.

Not just all things, but all other metaphors are reduced to the metaphor singing dust. All intoxication with the beauty of the word and all love of objects is reduced to emptiness, helplessness, the thirst of dust waiting for grace. The dust can receive Baba’s word ‘to sing us clean’.

Love is not just a mechanism of evolution. It is the life tree’s ‘green sap’, pushing up into real knowledge. Even love can be trapped in the material. The real dissolving of subject and object comes only from His Grace.

» ghazal #148 »