Poem 90

A relaxed colloquial tone opens the poem as he addresses God and compares himself to a machine needing adjustment. ‘Tonicity’ means healthy vigour of mind and body, and also suggests he is like an out of tune instrument.

Many of us have shared the same bafflement as to why we are not made a bit more tuneful. As in verse 2 we don’t have a clue in understanding divine purposes even in ourselves.

‘Sounding board’ as used in verse three means his heart would be like the thin sheet of wood that acts as a resonator of sound in a musical instrument such as a violin or piano. Also there is the metaphorical implication of serving to spread or popularize Baba’s influence.

Verse four and we are back to the same old theme – ‘only the Beloved is’ – and Francis feels the heavy burden of pouring out words from his own lack of authenticity (verse 5).

The poem continues to address this God so far beyond our understanding except when we have the direct contact of His ‘kiss’ of love. The unlimited torrent of creation is all around us.

In contrast to this is the beautiful quiet ending of the final stanza, the tender words of love which alone can cross the unbridgeable gap. ‘Chasm’ returns us to those earlier chasm poems, 74-77.

One thing I cannot understand: why you put up with the sound of me
When some filing down here, a screw tightened there would improve my tonicity.

Not understanding one thing shows that nothing is understood.
Which means that I know nothing about your Belovedhood.

If I understood the least thing about you my heart would be
A sounding-board to your eternal, singing infinity.

But this sort of knowledge is only revealed with your kiss —
Which brings me back to the point that only the Beloved is.

Words; words: bubbles streaming from a bubble — yet so great a load!
They could not be heavier if they were drops of liquid lead.

Dear Magician, what terrible things you pull out of your hat:
Suns, words, hearts, bombs and tears — your Continuing Creation Act.

Let me lose all words, Beloved, except those strong, soft words that cause the tears
Which fill the chasm of separation, that I may cross over from what appears.