Like the previous poem Francis attacks knowledge, not just its pretensions but the very concept itself, arguing provocatively and paradoxically that real being springs from ignorance and not from the pursuit of knowing. He is most persuasive, partly because he movingly confesses here his own experiences.
The relaxed informal opening makes us feel his confident assurance. This is a great way of describing the pursuit of heaven on earth by the greedy ‘knowledge-wallahs’.
Lest he be seen as an ignorant and arrogant sneerer he admits he too is sunk in illusion and with real pathos shows how he has believed in the siren song and promises of the Beloved. He has kept his faith alive with hopes.
Notice how the verse slows down in the third and fourth stanzas with many stops. His hopes are now not based on his wishes or the Master’s promises of when and what will happen. His faith comes from something deeper than ordinary knowledge, the experience that ‘I know that God is – and believe that somehow in that Is I’m included.’ (verse 4)
This is the knowledge of surrender, like that of Christians who give themselves to Christ, beyond all happenings or opposites.
The last two stanzas are a wonderful testimony of the personal truth and realization that underlies this whole book.
I’m not blaming the knowledge wallas. How could they not be blind, deaf and dumb
Brought up as they were on the big dividend doctrine of, Kingdom, here I come?
I, too, am sea-sunk in illusion — singing the Beloved who keeps by my side.
‘Soon, soon now’, He whispers to me, ‘will be the time of my Avataric tide.’
Where are my songs of cheer, my time-pass tales of the Way? It’s now all too grim.
Who am I that I might be included in the next tide-turn of His whim?
Yet I don’t hope. Nor can I pray. With prayer I’ve never intruded.
I know that God is — and believe that somehow in that Is I’m included.
And would the Beloved remain by my side and whisper ‘soon’ in my ears
If I were to stay in illusion’s sea for more than another billion years?
Do I not over and over (to the exasperation of all) insist
That the Beloved is all-in-all and that time and lover do not exist?
I am but a song being sung by a singer who infinitely is.
I am non-existent: He is eternal and I am His.
After this shrug, acknowledging his own nonentity, the vision in the final verse on knowledge suddenly expands into a vision of what real knowing is. And what is more he avoids all self-assertion and pseudo profundity.