Water, by being in love with death, gives life to all things;
Desiring absorption in the ocean it flows, and sings.
The song of water is reflected in greenness; it assumes
Incredible tallness in men’s hearts where it perfectly blooms.
It is so docile it goes wherever you conduct it;
So raging that it sweeps aside all that would obstruct it.
Its nature is female, it always flows in curves;
Try to grasp it, it eludes you; respect it, it serves.
It occupies the smallest place, yet spreads everywhere:
Its boundlessness can only be expressed by a tear.
As water are the lovers of God—tall in humility,
Forever passing away in eternal stability;
Falling ever at the Beloved’s feet, they spring up in their fall—
And springing, singing like giant flowers, they shed perfume on all.
A hymn to water.
Water is often praised for its beauty and the refreshment it brings. Here its symbolic quality is taken a step further. It follows its destiny to the absorption in the ocean with flowing song. Its pliant surrender seems to convey the musical and feminine side of creation. Mighty and unconfined it gives life, as a symbol springing up tall in men’s hearts. ‘Tall in humility’ describes exactly what Francis sees as the true path. Lovers ‘spring up in their fall’, in other words assume real stature in their prostrate surrender. Yielding and human yet irresistible it creates the growth and perfume of love. The ‘tear’ here links it to the heart.
Poetry affirms that we know and live through relating to metaphor, to natural thing as symbols of inward truths. A hymn to H2O it is not. Such ways of knowing, seeing all creation as symbolic of the one Reality, are not romantic and pretty fancies, they are what make us human. Even God Himself comes to us in this fashion. Revealers of truth are poets and vice versa.