After all, who are the worse off—the warm-housed heart-poor
Or us stumbling through the night towards the Beloved’s door?
They pity us because they do not know the poetry of tears;
We know, having lived their way, that their laughter covers their fears.
It is as if the eave-nested sparrow pitied the eagle on the crag
Where the rising sun, while the valley still sleeps, plants his glorious flag;
As if the gregarious violet pitied the rose, alone—
Though it is to her that the golden-throated nightingale makes moan;
As if the loud-sounding drum pitied the flute’s sweet voice
Each note of which is love’s lips’ discriminating choice.
We may never reach our goal, but we have companionship in sorrow;
The heart-poor are alone in their dread of what may happen tomorrow.
Our darkness is full of light; their lit ways are so dark.
Our tears may cause a flood—but our Noah has built his ark.
Follows on from the previous poem. A contrast between those comfortable with material contentment and the aspirers after truth, love and beauty. Many of Francis’ poems offer encouragement and try to galvanise us, without bribing with false easy rewards.
It is the heart-poor who are the unrealistic, hiding from fear by denying encroaching darkness. We share in a feeling of oneness with others, in fact oneness with all. Our suffering and our humility before the divine mystery are full of light.
Noah, often seen as a type of the Christ , is the figure of our protector. We have faith in him even if our sorrows seem to drown out the world.
Art points to the transcendent, the soaring aloft of the eagle, the unexcelled beauty of the rose, the exquisite lament of the flute. Such earthly things are for us symbols of the divine. The materialist is cut off from transforming imagination.
Our response to Francis’ poems can be the glorious sharing in the fellowship of tears.