Poem 49

Here are echoes of the wild 1960’s, but hey, just what is going on here? In those first two verses isn’t there a bit of swagger, that ‘highs’ with Baba put all those acid trips in the shade? Isn’t this Francis doing a bit of the blabbing that he says is forbidden to him in verse 3?

But it is all of a smart structural ploy. Finding Baba is a total contrast to the avid pursuit of self-fulfilling experiences of the acid- heads. Reality is not just a chemical happening but an integral part of devotion, given to one who has ‘kissed the winecup’s lip’ in worshipful communion.

And how vividly Francis brings this message home in the last two verses. This is karma yoga with a vengeance, performed out of loving submission. And the blows of the Master’s are part of the deal. And the last verse goes beyond even this in its radical lack of compromise.

The unfailing integrity of the poems presents the core truth of all true spiritual traditions – there are no flowery indulgent shortcuts to escape from Maia’s wiles, and death to self is not just a piece of metaphorical hyperbole.

If they who take L.S.D. only knew what sort of wine is being doled out
In the Wineshop in Love Street, it would be a case of all plane-flights sold out.

If the beat kids got a hint of the melodies that pour from the demijohn’s throat,
They would be crawling around the floor with their tongues sticking out trying to catch one spilt note.

So that I don’t blab out secrets, my Master has stitched my lips together
And has restricted my movements to the length of a short tether.

Regarding God-Man, even though the intellect is dim,
Try and grasp that the world and you and I exist by His whim.

Reality doesn’t just ‘happen’: it comes to one who has kissed
The winecup’s lip — or from a blow of the Master’s iron fist.

In the meantime we who have been admitted to the wineshop scrub pots and sweep the floor:                                                                                          This, after having worn thin with our eyebrows the stone steps leading up to the door.

When one has become wasted with love, one is fit to see the Beloved’s face;
When one has become a dead man, one is at last fit to receive His Grace.