Many poems written to God are basically complaints written along the lines of “How long, how long O Lord?” Not this one; rather than pleading for patience from God it becomes a hymn of praise for God’s patience with us, setting out the marvellous care that has awoken us into the becoming that leads to conscious Being. It is not looking to excuse the poet for still being full of desires, but rather giving an explanation that His loving care never ceases. The refrain “still goes on” finally conveys not our impatience but God’s great patience. This develops through the poem to the final conclusion.
Although I have given myself to my Beloved without reservation,
This tug of war between us still goes on.
Although I have no will of my own, some instinct of self-preservation
(Which has been from ancient times) still goes on.
At my Beloved’s whim for knowledge the world rose out of non-existence
As his trailing shadow – and still goes on.
No wonder I have always clung to myself with persistence
(The safety of darkness) – which still goes on.
It was in the act of creation that my Master first showed His mercy to me
(Else I would still have slept) – and it still goes on.
Why then this tug of war from the beginning of time, when it is so easy to see
That He alone is – why it still goes on?
Although I am His, the dark nourishes thousands of my desires.
Strange! but His patience never tires – it still goes on.
No over dramatising here; the frequent dashes and brackets give a sense of slow thinking and discovery. And it is not a thought that the poem ends up as; it is an intuition that comes to him, and us, from a relationship with the Beloved.
Head conviction is not enough, we have our age old inheritance of animal sanskaras from our evolutionary past. We belong to a process so much vaster than our selves. The beautiful image of the creation as God’s “trailing shadow” helps us accept that like Caliban in The Tempest we are a “thing of darkness” who find it well-nigh impossible to conquer our animal nature and surrender to a life of service. But unlike Caliban we are not serving a stern Magus but a loving Master.
The poem is a gift to us of the calm acceptance of faith. It goes beyond the dilemma of our plight to its solution, trust and gratitude.