When, one day, the Master looked at me sideways I saw
Compassion and mercy and forgiveness and—oh, so much more.
That is why I joined these scoundrels who hang around outside his door
With the hope sometimes of seeing him—just that, and no more.
Of course, one day he might ask me to come in and sweep his floor
Or go an errand: that indeed would be heaven—and more.
We do not blame you who give us a wide berth, we deplore
Our own condition: a grain of love to give him—no more.
Oh, that we had great wealth, or talent, or learning’s store
To give him fit comforts, to entertain him—and much more.
But ah! last night when the street was quiet and sleep totalled each score
He brought us in and gave us such wine—we desire nothing more.
Now we are dead men, dead men with our eyes fixed on his door,
And hands held out grasping glasses—that he might fill once more.
The rhyme scheme, and the insistent ‘more’, give some idea of the poet’s obsession. Just what is this ‘more’? Can it ever be expressed in words? Can it only be known by its absence?
The beggar at love’s door; not virtue or talent keeps him there, just need, just hope, sustained by wistful fantasies. Does the wine come only in the dreams of sleep? These scoundrels are addicted to these dreams. What fools they must be in the eyes of the world! Some of the poems mock this state of craving but here he wants to be utterly frank about it.
When ‘sleep totalled each score’ means the balancing out of sanskaras during the dream state.
The poem itself dramatizes the increase of urgency and desire, so that we progress from humbly waiting outside to an imperative craving for divine wine. That is more indeed! The slightly comical picture of addicts waiting outside the door of the tavern helps prevent any sloppy sentimental goo.