Our tears are a fountain of self-deception, a waterfall
Between us and the Reception being held in the Diamond Hall.
You sent invitations written in gold letters
To us of the lowest stations, neglecting our betters.
We arrive at the open palace gate and cry, We are shut out—
And later accuse the watchman of acting towards us like a lout.
You even sent baskets of fruit and flagons of wine,
Which we found didn’t suit our palates so had to decline.
We are more stupid than sheep which balk at an imagined fence,
Or a millionaire with pencil and paper totalling halfpence.
Cattle, when brought to water, stop lowing and start to drink;
We, with your Grace continuously flowing, stop to think.
No wonder, Beloved, you smile at our tears which are a waterfall
Between us in our slums of mind and you in the Diamond Hall.
Any hint of complacency about keeping the vigil in the previous poem is here rejected. The extravagant emotions of the lover are here treated with a dose of humour and scepticism, though not of course scepticism about the Beloved. The poet is beyond that stage.
With imagery that is marvellously fresh and original he bemoans the stupidity of mind that keeps us bleating outside the gates of the divine. The gate is open but we persist it is shut. The offerings sent out to us, perhaps the Beloved’s words or sacred verse, we just don’t have the discrimination to accept as nourishment. Mind makes us take the false as real, and the inessential as the true value. We lack even the instinctive wisdom of dumb animals as our false imaginations get in the way.
Our very laments, so prominent in much of Francis’ or Sufic verse, form a liquid veil between us and our true home.