I would never have troubled about love if love had not troubled me;
I would never be on this raft if I had not been chucked into the sea.
Anyone who enters upon this trackless path of his own accord
Should be shut up in an asylum, with hard labor to earn his board.
When God loves a man he sets about arranging his ruin,
Puts a great pot on the fire for him snugly to stew in.
Then he fishes him out and cools him with a sideways glance
That says, Maybe you’ll become my lover—there is just a chance.
The poor fish (he is now neither man, beast nor fowl)
Thinks that world’s end has come, and sets up an awful yowl.
This is the beginning of his love-song, a clearing of his throat;
After many lifetimes of attempts he strikes the right note.
Now it is all plain sailing—with only storms and shipwrecks
(For the sake of diversion and other sundry aspects).
A bit of robust relief perhaps after the hymn to grief.
In this poem the tone of cheerful insouciance makes a nice contrast with its doleful list of difficulties. It is a poem when you can almost hear the voice of the poet and his dry humor.
It is an attractive combination and makes its point that all the real action comes from God. Any thought that it is your own will that has led you to God certainly needs to be punished.
Do not presume but also do not despair!
Again a wakeup call against conventional religious sentiment.