Poem 40

Everything is good, but nothing has any sense;
And all postures except that of dust are mere pretence.

In each grain of dust there is every form of precious stone;
In each grain of dust the seed of poetry has been sown.

It awaits but a drop of spilt wine to give it voice—
When, compared with its singing, all other music is noise.

When the lover’s lips have become a rose and his eyes a nightingale’s tongue,
The Beloved listens with pride and joy to every note that is sung.

Ah! but who can set out on this terrible journey into Nothing,
Even at the promise of eventual union with Everything?

Brother, do not listen to any tale about love’s recompenses—
This journey is only for those bereft of their senses.

Every thing is solid, but no thing has permanence. As in a dream
Eyes and lips that I have cherished appear as bright bubbles on a stream.

Good poetry arrests the attention and this happens here right from the first verse. Nothing has any sense because mind is inadequate to gauge reality; everything is good because to live in the present moment without wishing that it should be different is to find it precious. Posture suggests both a body attitude and a pose. All our individual dignity is fake, surrender and submission to the Real our only ‘correct posture’. Notice how the five beats to the line give the assertions real poise.

Like Blake Francis sees a world in a grain of sand. But only the wine of the Beloved’s presence will make it sing. The dynamic mutual adoration of nightingale and rose that springs from self-forgetfulness alone pleases God. We need a metamorphosis into emblematic creatures of love.

But we get no recompenses for the lacerating of self in devotion. The seekers are like camel riders who traverse the desert of bewilderment: they must be bereft of their senses – both crazy, and also indifferent to the sensory world. As they say “You don’t have to be crazy to embark on the path but it helps”.

The end of the poem echoes its beginning, giving a sense of closure. This world of too, too solid flesh has resolved itself into a dream. God alone is real. The solidity, like the ‘good’ at the start is only real in that it comes from God.