This poem tells us a lot about Francis’ poetry. Not hymns of praise to be quired in cathedrals, they are the rough songs for the bunch of ragamuffins and reprobates dwelling in the dirt of Love Street, waiting for the doors of the tavern to swing wide (a bit like the wine bars that used to be ubiquitous in Australian cities).These beggars are ready to make a rollicking song out of the whole vast portentous cosmic journey their souls have made. They have matured from being naïve cosmic tourists to an acceptance of themselves as flesh-bound beggars, squatting without dignity to await the Master’s Grace. They are not overawed by the enormous cosmic perspective since they can fill the time remembering His bright call —
“The lover is only his own imagination; the Beloved is All-in-all.”
No fancy invocations here folks, just some breezy Aussie mateship in our shared waiting. Isn’t this close to the spirit of good-humoured hopelessness and helplessness of the Song of the New Life, the song composed by Meher Baba’s Dr Ghani?
We set out in the long-ago, in the dawn of Creation.
We set out singing in a sort of a nude jubilation.
We had every reason to rejoice, for we had just left your presence
Ah! Beloved, we had no idea there’d be a billion years absence.
A conducted tour of Space with the stars as our guides, we thought.
O God, no excursion ticket was ever so dearly bought.
Presently, Earth loomed before us with a notice board: YOUR TRIP ENDS HERE.
And the angel part of us fled, and the Man part stayed rooted in fear.
But we knew we would have to take up the load of birth;
We were children no longer, but men to inhabit Earth.
And soon (it now seems) you, Beloved, came swinging down the road calling your bright Call:
“The lover is only his own imagination; the Beloved is All-in all.”
Once we were children singing anthems and praises before the throne of the Lord;
Now we are the Love Street singers filling in time, awaiting your lovely Word.
The poem skilfully guides our response. ‘Nude jubilation’ conveys something wild and primitive as well as being fresh and witty when applied to the newly emerged souls, relatively naked of sanskaras. The souls sound like holiday trippers through space, unaware of the immensity of our separation or the need to pay the price of evolution in the flesh. ‘Earth’ is capitalized reminding us that Meher Baba, unlike modern scientific cosmologists sees it as the centre of the universe, not by its spatial position but as the place where God incarnates and all of us find ourselves. The Beloved ‘swinging’ down the road is great, an impression of casual mastery. The poem does not hide its serious implications of the duration and cost of our ‘trip’ but it avoids self- pity and high drama. It reminds us that we have reached childhood’s end.