Poem 61

Like so many of Francis’ ‘songs’ this reveals its bloom of meaning verse by verse, petal by petal. The first verse sets out the contradiction facing the artist of words serving a Master who has said silence alone is adequate to truth. A little pun there, no doubt, in ‘cords’ (chords).

You have said: Drown all sounds in my silence so that you may hear my words of words.
Yet you demand fresh songs — to bind me in your net of contradictory cords!

Verse 2 says Baba would not be Baba if he did not require opposite things. This was of course a recognised feature of Baba’s testing of his followers. The problem here is expressed in musical terms. Not just art but all of creation proceeds through the interaction of opposites, discord and harmony, beauty (melody) and lawful rigour (rhyme). (Maybe the dissonances in the poems are switches of mood and paradoxes of thought?)

But it wouldn’t be you if you did not require opposite things at the same time —
Such as a dissonant harmony and a melody of correct rhyme.

In verse 3 we move to a still deeper level where God functions as both beyond all qualities (Silence) and as the conductor of the whole symphony of creation.

You are the Master Musician and the Great Ancient Silence — what a strange accord.
The universe is your chorale swinging about the axis of your silent Word.

Back to the poet in verse 4, the great personal paradox, making the journey yet having never left the ocean of reality.

Really, you created the universe to provide me with a journey, after which done,
I would meet you, Beloved. But before creation was, we were already one!

All is a great loop to return to the place from which we have never started!

A journey into nothingness along the star-studded loop of space —
A voyage into separation to arrive at your dwelling-place.

Yet out of these contradictions in verse 6 there bursts the key word of ‘sweet’. The song of praise is beyond mind, and is able to perform the miracle of capturing the Unconditioned in the prison of embrace. A pun here too of course in ‘bars’.

Sweet Nothingness! That taught me your everythingness. Sweet song of the stars!
That taught me how to imprison silence behind musical bars.

Even the inherent contradictions of our human state can be reconciled in our service but only through His wine, when His grace lifts us beyond ourselves.

So, to a small degree, I have obeyed your order to be silent and sing:
But only by wine have I been able to accomplish this impossible thing.

Both the control of the poetic statement and its beauty of emotion have captured a flavour of the mystery. The Silence becoming Word is ultimately the mystery of the Incarnation of the Avatar.