Iron plains, and then sea-stretch to new desert lands—grief’s growth.
This is the mercy of the Beloved to heal our wrath.

If we had not opened a bank-account in the name of Anger
We would not need traveller’s cheques—for where would we be stranger?

It is senseless to talk of brotherhood while Lust rules us;
First we must suffer otherhood while love schools us.

And peace-talk is verbal diarrhea so long as Greed
Deprives half the world daily of a decent feed.

Nothing can happen till we renounce our triple prosperity
And learn to establish ourselves in perfect poverty.

We can make a start now, or grind on for millions of births;
No need to worry about the bitch Science—there’ll be plenty more Earths.

Hammers of hunger on anvils of grief forge the golden chains
By which we are dragged to the feet of God across the iron plains.


This does not have the dreadful emptiness of the previous poem but conveys a powerful condemnation of the present world and a frightening picture of the necessary wrath of God which is needed to drag us to Him. Perhaps Francis had Blake’s poem The Tyger in mind when he wrote the last stanza.

If we carry anger with us we will never be in need of travellers’ cheques, it will be recognised everywhere. Desire (lust) will not lead to relationship and union, we have to experience otherness to learn the need for real love. Greed rules the world and it is just empty talk to talk of peace while this is so. These kileshas or defilements are our triple prosperity which must be stripped from us.

Don’t wail about the way science is threatening life on the planet, there will be other planets in the future. Francis followed Baba in taking the long view.

The poem cleverly links capitalist greed with our banking up of the defilements. And the ‘wrath’ of God which is our only cure is of course His mercy.

» ghazal #38 »