This morning the dust in Love Street was a stream of flags,
And every scrubby beggar had shaved and patched his rags.

For last night word went through the street that set all afire:
Tomorrow the Master will satisfy our hearts’ desire.

Some idiots had dashed off to the surrounding towns
To round up all the down-at-heels singers and clowns.

By the time I got to the wineshop there was a queue a mile long,
Each with an enamel mug in his hand which he knuckled as a gong.

The musicians and singers were belting out a round,
But the sweetest music was the wine-jar’s gurgling sound.

The beloved Master’s face outshone the rising sun,
And his eyes were seas in which was drowned all sin we had done.

From daybreak to dayclose the thirsty beggars filed by;
And some drank, and shouted, and some passed out on a sigh.


What a gallant and attractive poem this is; a great proletarian vision, non-elitist and good humoured, on the opening of the tavern. No false piety and holiness allowed. The emphasis is wholly on the Master’s generosity and grace.

The word ‘tavern’ has just the right old-world ring to it.

For me this song holds the very essence of dramatic comedy: a reaching out to generously embrace all, saints, sinners and idiots, god accepting us in spite of all our scabs of folly.

It is a hope for the future but it is also a celebration of the present.

» ghazal #98 »