Put a pig in a drawing-room, they say, and it remains a swine;
And a ‘metho’ drinker’s palate is dead to vintage wine.
They reproach us, Why do you remain living in a slum
When your Beloved, you say, rules a great kingdom?
Little do these respectable ones know of the poor—
Their real lowliness, their great pride; they need no more.
It would be a black shame to ask love for anything but love;
And even to ask that would be a sort of backhanded reproof.
That beloved from whom one may ask favors and gifts
Is not the Beloved who remains through time’s huge shifts.
They despise us for our drunkenness, for living in hovels;
We despise that one who for position bootlicks and grovels .
The rich have their pastimes, the learned their books—and that’s fine.
For us, the poor, what have we to do but drink wine.
But don’t get misled by imagery of gilded palaces and diamond halls (see previous poem). In spite of such imagery the true lover is not really after the refinements and treasures of the hierarchical imagination.
Francis is not afraid to accept labels as the lowest of the low, but those who mock him are swine before whom the pearl of wisdom is cast; are even the swiggers of methylated spirits, so avid for alcohol that they will swallow anything (such were not uncommon in Australian cities).They are without discrimination.
No civilized standards can apply. He is harking back to Jesus’ words, Mt: 5,3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. As in the Sermon on the Mount, in Francis’ world there is a radical gulf between the worldly and the followers of the Avatar.
We are not driven by desire and even to ask for love is in a sense a presumption that is taking credit away from our mighty lord.
We have to be aware of images of diamond halls, we love for love alone.
Poverty (lack of desire) and drunkenness (taking us beyond our minds) isolate us from contemporary mores.