Poem 93

Knowledge was really a game the beloved invented
For us – a time-pass after our being fed and tented.

That only is real knowledge from which the Master speaks;
And what He says is a confusion to him who seeks.

Human knowledge consists in knowing that the Beloved is all-in-all.
Beyond this there is precisely nothing to know at-all, at-all.

Our error is in not seeking that which cannot be sought,
And so all our seeking necessarily comes to naught.

The universe was created out of nothing but ignorance;
The how and what of it even makes the Beloved look askance.

Love is all that a man needs and is meant to know
Over and above tent-pitching and what to sow.

And now they are planning moon-travel and beyond!
No wonder the Beloved is again about to abscond.

How unremarkable this poem looks at first glance yet it is truly wonderful. It says what is said at the conclusion of God Speaks: “To understand the infinite, eternal Reality is not the GOAL of individualized beings in the Illusion of Creation, because the Reality can never be understood; it is to be realized by conscious experience”.

The poem embodies how this perspective can be meaningful. It is unpretentious with its picture of the Beloved looking ‘askance’ and about to ‘abscond’. But it is not just putting devotion before knowledge. The plain diction and casual tone show how little the poet can do and how little he knows. Real knowledge is the knowledge of our poverty, of our lowly creatureliness.

At first sight the fourth stanza seems a typo. Shouldn’t it be ‘in seeking that which cannot be sought’? But we should seek what cannot be sought, the utterly transcendent presence of the Beloved that can’t be known yet must be ’realized’ But we seek for our self-created objectives when there is only the Beloved as all-in-all. The poet’s own humility is a witness against modern hubris. What a contrast with the vatic eloquence of Pound and other Moderns.