These rags have become too thin to keep out the wind that blows
Down from the mountain where the hearts of the eggheads froze.

On the path of love one must become naked. But this is mere thread-bareness!
And of the world, rather than of my Beloved, is my awareness.

Truth has ready for each one a coat of perfect fit—
But our bodies are so ill shaped that one can’t wear it.

One must serve a Perfect Master through many lives
To get that love-shaped form which on misfortune thrives.

We are increasingly intoxicated with some-whitherness,
And distort our image-of-God shape by wearing a dumb beast’s harness.

The only way out of the madness is to take a chance
In dust and on the Beloved’s perhaps sideways glance.

Drunkenness is our nature, but sobriety is our duty;
Otherwise how can we ever praise the Beloved’s beauty?


Our threadbare clothes (remnants of faith?) are not enough to stop our minds and hearts being chilled by the lifeless abstractions of the intellectuals. An echo of Isaiah, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Is. 64:6). This is not the true poverty of naked exposure to love. Nor have we put on the ‘coat of perfect fit’, we are not wearing the full armour of righteousness. Francis uses many biblical concepts but manages to give them fresh expression. To put on the New Man, ‘to get that love-shaped form’, we have to have had lifetimes of service.

But maybe if we unclench to risk all for a possible glance from the Beloved? But such intoxication needs sobriety as well. Both mast and salik!

‘Intoxicated with some-whitherness’ is demanding to know our destination.

‘Wearing a dumb beast’s harness’ means held back by our animal sanskaras, (not wearing leather!).

» ghazal #95 »