Poem 59

A fine poem written with all the assurance of mature experience with Baba (notice the ‘we’ in the first two verses representing those who already know the wineshop). The eloquence of the summation of the ‘world’ in verse 1 is breathtaking, as is the supreme confidence of verse 2.

We have proved that the world is a box of dreams, a bag of words, a bundle of occasions;
A kiss of meeting, a short laughter, a weeping of departure, a swift flight of seasons.

We know that one glass of the Master’s wine is the intimation
Of beingness beyond any advertised heavenly station.

But Francis will never present the divine encounter as a shopwindow full of lollies. The meeting with the Beloved is not a possession to appropriate but a wooing supplication. Even if you can talk your way into heavenly experiences, only a genuine love offering will work to make God reveal Himself.

Still, don’t try to find your way to Love Street and the shop where vintage wine is sold,
Unless you have hard currency, and the patience ‘to wait until the tale is told.’

Even then, you might find the door closed; He opens it only when in the mood.
You might bluster your way into heaven — but the Beloved has to be wooed.

He then talks in an interesting way about two vintages. One is made from the crushing of the grapes, us, in ‘selfless service’ whilst the other is beyond creation, part of the eternal divine nature.

There are two vintages: one pressed from the press of selfless service;
The other pressed at the time of creation from the press of bliss.

We are presented with a view of history completely at odds with any utopian notion of attaining heaven on earth. Life is fulfilled only by a coming to ruination, a stripping away of all we see as achievement. The encounter with Baba is a destruction, it is a death.

The two complementary vintages are inseparable. One is the unearned downpouring of grace, the other requiring our hard earned and sacrificial service. Ecstasy is always associated sooner or later with the pain of longing.

Love seemed such a sweet thing in the beginning — so sweet that the young heart would burst;
Then, though the lover must continue his singing, comes separation and thirst.

History is the tale of ruins left by the army of the Beloved’s glances;
Geography is the names of graves which terminated divine romances.