Poem 79

The ocean and the sea are present in many of the poems from this part of the book. Francis speaks of emerging from the water onto the land to arrive at the Avatar. This is to some extent an analogy of the momentous step taken during our long evolution when we emerged onto dry land. Now it becomes a figure of finding the goal. Meher Baba’s sister Mani spoke in similar terms. She once said “that Baba, as the Avatar, was like the shore of an infinite ocean. How can you approach the ocean except through the shore? God taking on form is like a beach.”(Mehera-Meher, III, 542).

The symbolism in these poems is complex since Francis speaks of two different fluid wholes. He says that ‘On a whim the Ocean of Being begot a Sea of Illusion’ (Poem 74) following Baba’s creation account of how the Ocean of Everything gives rise to the Ocean of Nothing. Our drop souls remain in the everlasting Ocean of Everything or Truth while our evolving takes place in the waves of another ocean, the ocean of Nothing or Falseness. At least as humans we have risen from the depths to the surface as bubbles of consciousness.

We are all vagrants living from hand to mouth a day at a time
Wave-riding, current-rafting, having broken free from the sea-slime.

Why not take it to its conclusion and vagabond along the seashore?
Don’t you realize that that is the threshold of the Beloved’s door?

The poet is able to make the theory vivid by making it an imaginatively real voyage:

The beloved Master has been with us every drop-bubble of the way
Putting song into our sinews – yet we seek every excuse for delay.

With thousands of, “Just a little further, another wave crest.”
He has urged us, “and storm-toil will be over and you can rest.”

Who could resist such encouragement, such an offer?

Will He not open His door to us and fill our cupped hands with wine
If we sing sweetly to Him? Is He not the Merciful, the Benign?

Yet the next couplet might make us wonder if it is as straightforward as all that:

If we polish the threshold with our eyebrows till it gleams like snow
Will not His ocean-bliss face with compassion tenderly glow?

Might He not, Francis, say to himself: Here is a tale brought to completion,
A story that needs no more words – only one little deletion?

Suddenly the whole journey of quest seems somehow inauthentic. No more imagining with words; to reach our goal we need only to delete, to lose – what? And all self-confidence seems to be evaporating with those wistful unanswered questions. Neither the poet nor the reader is going to be allowed to be presumptuous, to come to the Beloved expecting reward.

There has been a dramatic and effective shift of tone from the confident exhortation to action at the start. We have been given a mature and modulated poetic drama.