When God takes human form as Avatar what a paradox it is. For He comes to make us realize the falseness of appearances, even of His own. This poem opens with an immediate reflection of Francis’ daily experience whilst living in India with Meher Baba.
Oh, what a game! what a game! I wrote poems that win me God’s kisses of approval,
And I laugh and bow before him knowing that my verses have no existence at all.
So many of the poems open like this with a tension that the poet will attempt to resolve.
Good poems are droplets of praise to the ocean of the Word.
That the poet himself creates them – how perfectly absurd.
As Francis knew, in traditional Avataric civilizations the artists were often anonymous. They are the mere conduits, here conveying not drops but mere droplets to His ocean of plenitude. So much for artistic pride. It is all so absurd, not the modern absurdity of despair but that which acknowledges the “perfectly absurd”, the idea of adding to His perfection.
Sun sings, stars sing, Manward – their journey’s end.
Men sing Homeward, to the house of the Friend.
God is known as the Friend in Sufi poetry. All creation leads up to God coming home to God.
The best built are but camps for one night.
The finest wrought art is but a moment’s delight.
The tension is still with us, it all sounds so transitory. But then:
When my Beloved praises my work it is a divine pretence
That there are just two of us – and, oh, how I relish such moments.
A pretence? The fact is, the universe is nought
But an endless playground for Love’s infinite sport.
The Beloved’s appreciation of our efforts is just pretence. How can there be “two of us” when He alone is real? Then the wonder, the amazing revealing: the whole illusion serves something infinitely mind stunning, it provides the ground for love finding love, God recognising Himself as us, the seal of love, a reality utterly beyond all illusion.
The whole poem works up to this. It conveys something of the playful lila or game of God in its own words and structure. ‘E Ma Ho!’ as the Tibetans say!