Poem 52

Since you planted your banner in my heart, my heart has become
A field of battle against the Pretender to your kingdom.

The battle rages back and forth across the empty plain,
And many knightly heroes on both sides have been slain.

How you delight in this (as in all wars) where none is hurt at all —
Where the fallen are whisked off to heaven to continue the brawl.

The real conflicts begin after Baba claims us, notice the emphasis that the initiative belongs to Him. The Pretender is the ego, or Maia, rather than any devil figure. Then a nice flight of fancy as the poet thinks of heroic battles which are all figments of illusion anyway. The tone is light hearted and we can enjoy Francis having fun placing himself in the mock heroic.

This tone is continued as he thinks with envy of the Hobbit-like domestic peace or of yogic one-pointed concentration, for the conflict has been intensified through longing for Baba.

But for my part, what with this war going on and your tantalizing glances,
I envy him who enjoys his pipe in the sun, or the yogi his trances.

Pursuing Baba is like having carrot and stick at the same time, the poet being no freer than the ass, and no wiser.

I am the ass that at the same time has his bones broken with blows
And is led on by a carrot dangling in front of his nose.

Well, as the saying goes, it’s a long road that has no turning.
Sometime this heart-war must end, and my soul be healed of its burning.

‘It’s a long road that has no turning’ – things have to change but maybe we need to remember that pleasures as well as pains change in time.

Perhaps he sounds no better than an escapist yogi himself in the last stanza, but he is remembering that the rules of the wineshop on dispensing wine are solely in the hands of the Master and he is also keeping up a consistently playful tone, even less serious than the previous tavern poem, 51.

In the meantime until this happens the only remedy is to get, and stay, drunk.True —

But — there’s only one wineshop in this place — and that is owned by you.