What other poet can talk with God so intimately, whilst avoiding all romantic hogwash and posing? It is not just God who is ‘never stumped to spring a new surprise.’
This poem is to God in eternity from the poet living in time.
What an eternal Beloved you are!
After much hand-wringing on my part, you blessed
The work of my hands – only to make me see that success
is a paste jewel on a hag’s breast.
I was envisioning the spoils of toil –
come late, come greater—
And found myself consigned, ‘arse up with care’ to
Nowhere on a freighter.
The irregular lines convey the conversational tone as the poet humorously and mercilessly mocks his own pretensions.
Now when the sun rises with trumpets I weep and say to
him compassionately, Don’t be boastful, Brother – in a few billion years it will
be your turn for what I have been through lately.
And to the earth-worm I cry, Bravo!
a couple of wriggles more
And you will be arriving at the steps to the Beloved’s door.
The majestic sun, worshipped by poets and others gets put in his place by this tiny human, he is way back on the time track of evolution, whilst the humble worm gets a word of encouragement.
The mills of God turn slowly and grind small;
The wedding night is destined for us all.
In these words of comfort for all time bound creatures Francis seems to be remembering a short poem by Longfellow:
Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all.
We all have to have patience so we might as well forget all achievement goals,
Down tools and sing the night away, if you’ll make the time shorter;
And shut out that bitch Progress – she turns good wine into water.
What a Beloved you are! I will shout from the house-tops, I will advertise
That regarding resourcefulness you are never stumped to spring a new surprise.
Well what else can we do than sing His praises! Our very plight creates the wine of song. Only a very confident poet can do it with such relaxed familiarity. Because the individual poetic voice is so distinctive it is possible to forget that he is addressing a situation we all face, dwarfed by the immensities of God and cosmos, faced with time spans that dwarf our individual lives.