This salt waste, and a sky that is the mirror of our grief—
How long can we survive unless you send us relief?
At first, tears were a warden that unlocked our hearts and set us free—
How could we know that in time they would become a raging sea?
That night when the stars fell out of the sky, you said:
But a little while, and you will be comforted.
The sun rose no more and we could not plot a course.
The curling wave; and the hiss of the wind like a curse.
How many lifetimes ago was that—or is it merely years—
Since we’ve sat huddled in a boat the wind and current steers?
The only light is lightnings that burn through the darkness and sear our eyes;
Then we cup our hands to our mouths as the rain pours down from the skies.
All this in a boat as frail as a bubble. Surely it is your mercy
Which bears us on and keeps us from the hungry mouth of the sea.
As Meher Baba worked on Francis he put him through terrible periods of depression: Meherwan says that as he and Francis strolled up the approach road to Meherazad Francis turned to him and said, “The patience of this man is grinding me to dust.” If we have not experienced such extreme states we are perhaps fortunate.
Here a subjective state is rendered in the figure of the mariner, adrift and abandoned at sea. The sea has become a symbol of barrenness and of tempest tossed torment.
This voyage of utter desolation is as terrible in its way as the tormented sonnets of Gerald Manley Hopkins: see for example “pitched past pitch of grief…”
No heroic voyage this, afloat in a boat frail as a bubble – compare Rimbaud’s “Bateau Ivre” “a boat frail as a butterfly in May”. The boat is totally helpless against the overwhelming flux of the sea. Instead of the ocean being symbol of dissolving oneness it is here a sea of menace.
“When the stars fell out of of the sky” can refer to the initial moments of creation when the suns of light issue forth, or just to the feeling of immense significance when the voyage seemed full of signs and wonders.