Since it is the Beloved’s breath which sustains the creation,
No man yet has uttered a love-speech without his permission.
Since every heart is a cup which the Beloved fills with wine,
No man may refuse the chance of cup-passing, nor one decline.
Since, with one glance the Beloved put light into all eyes,
Why dig the dark of the earth, or seek in black space, for paradise?
The Beloved has hidden all knowledge in a lock of hair;
Only sight of his face can give certainty and end despair.
Beloved God-Man has wrapped the Real in a veil of silence;
Even the lowest heaven cannot be taken by violence.
Ask the way to Lovers’ Lane, and enter it soft-footed,
And when you reach his door do not knock, but stand tree-rooted
Till he sends for you and asks kindly your name and where you belong.
Then offer him your eyes for flowers and your lips as your song.
The yielding encounter with love is the only real escape from the clench of self. The poem gently encourages us to respond to the inner knowledge we already have that all that happens is in God’s hand and that His loving mercy is available. How gracefully Francis employs his metaphors to encourage us on. Our gentleness and persistence are both needed. The mystery of Being can be revealed in the beauty of a lock of hair. This is essentially the beauty of the Beloved found in the dark of emptiness rather than the beauty of the flesh (see the last line of poem 18). All knowledge is bestowed with the filling of the wine cup of the heart. All joy is in the offering of love to love as the last line beautifully sings.