The trouble with this business of illusion is its bright seeming—
The palaces and waters of it on the empty plain gleaming.
The thirst-crazed traveler thinks, This is the Beloved’s city—
The end of travail; coolness and ease and dew-lipped pity.
Not to go forward is also to miserably perish
When the sun burns in an inverted aluminum dish.
To go on or not to go on, is equally disaster…
At this point one is ready to meet the Perfect Master:
The Far-traveler, the Journey-completer, the Returner;
The Cradler, the Builder of cities and their Burner.
He brings us mile after cruel mile to meet him on the plain
Of no palaces and waters to build him an arbored fane.
In dryness is greenness; in desolate places the Friend
Who is pilgrim and path and its stations and journey’s end.
The seeker is faced with the dilemma of acting or not acting. If we act to follow the goal of our own imaginative construction we pursue illusion. If we remain passive we are stranded in the desert to perish. We shrivel up in the glare of the sun ( the ‘inverted aluminium dish’ captures the pitiless glare of the Australian sun).Only when we are forced to face the tension of this dilemma are we ready to meet the Perfect Master. The Master comprehends all contradictions. The fifth stanza applies some wonderful epithets to Him.
He is the only real completion of the journey. Only when we become our own poverty and dryness so we meet his greenness. Greenness triumphs in the next poem.