Poem 88

The world is being run on time, by time, for time, and at no time are we free
Just to sit and enjoy even the outward forms of the Beloved’s beauty.

Each drop-bubble in time is a sphere bounded, but infinite;
So fragile, yet the whole creation is held in it.

It is a mirror reflecting, never Truth, but the drop-soul’s desires.
No matter how deep one dives in the truth-quest or how high one aspires.

Good man, bad man, — economy-tailored or king-sized —
Each gazes in his bubble-mirror self-hypnotized.

Since the blows of my will are too feeble to break my looking-glass
At least, Beloved, let it reflect only your all-loving face.

Then, though still in time, I will no longer be a fool
Under time’s tyranny, but under your benign rule.

The amazing universe and this beautiful earth will vanish leaving not a trace behind,
When His glance shatters this so unbreakable mirror of my mind.

When in the first verse he speaks of time running the world he is using ‘world’ here to mean our modern world. This time dominated world contrasted with the peace of God-surrender was a major theme in Eliot’s Four Quartets where in “East Coker” Eliot speaks of this word as like a tube-train moving “In appetency on its metalled ways / Of time past and of time future”. Modern man is not free to be in time present where God is also.

Verse two leaps into Baba’s great metaphor of the bubble of our mind universe, unlimited in variety but bounded by a barrier between illusion and Reality.

As verse 3 says this bubble is the inevitable result of our impressions and desires, a self-reflective mirror which cannot be broken even by an intense desire for liberation. Verse 4 emphasizes that our human goodness or stature is not relevant to the breaking free of the self-hypnotism.

As always in Francis’ writing complete dependence on the Master takes centre stage. The mirror can through our devotion reflect the Master’s face. We are still not free but now with a real Master.

All apart from this is illusion and time bound as the last stanza says in words which recall the mage Prospero’s dismissal of his vision of cosmic wonders in The Tempest.

…   the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. (Act 4, Sc1)

The final line of Francis’ poem is however not a return to the material world but the shattering of time’s bondage by divine Grace.