Poem 33

I have come to value separation more than presence:
Presence is a veil; in the heart of separation is essence.

My brothers are they who are inundated by sorrow;
For them the sun no more rises — there is no ‘Tomorrow.’

We gather where guitars give out vibrant chords and violins weep:
Time must be passed somehow until the Sower comes out to reap.

In so many billion years the earth will be a dead thing;
By then I will have tuned my heart and be ready to sing.

Being then not, as I am now in the ranks of lovers a raw recruit,
My Beloved might not be quite so disdainful of my suit.

Accompanied by guitars of lightning and violins of rain
I will sing a new song as God shoves a new Earth into place again.

And He, laughing behind rainbows, will be stretching out His hand for my love-fruit
As from the notes of my singing come forth in radiance reptile, bird and brute.

How completely the sorrow of separation here is outshone by the glory of the imagination, an imagination freed from all worrying and self-cherishing. Or is it? Does there remain some tension between his love complaint and the final rejoicing vision set so far in the future.

Francis really love putting things into a proper cosmic scale. Here his song of jubilation even enjoys imagining assisting Baba in creating a new planet, by which time Francis may have some seniority!

As so often poems require an active and interpretive response from us. Its opening statement presents a challenge, especially when coupled with the seemingly gloomy picture in verses 2 and 3 His brothers here are his fellow servers of God. Song at least makes for a pastime, and there seems plenty of time to learn the art, ‘many billion years’. The playful exuberance of the language in the last two verses conveys a zest and happy radiance that maybe tells us that it is there in the poet already. We have faith in a new Eden where God will be our laughing companion once more. This will not be just a mere mucking about with song words, it will be helping as a real creator!

The humour and the fancifulness create an ambiguity of possible responses to the poem, which after all is the role of poetry.