Where now are all my former companions of sea travel
And endless arguments and songs that came out of a barrel?
I have never prayed, but I pray that the Beloved has remembered some of them:
Fifty from among them all — twenty — ten — even one, may be a gem.
But all prayers are granted even before they are spoken —
For God’s Isness is in all, continuous and unbroken.
Not a hero of the road can fall in the gutter without God’s falling;
Not a knight of the cup can sprawl over the table without God’s sprawling.
One day, beautiful lunatics, we all will arrive at His feet,
The song sung, the tales ended — only one word in each still to delete.
God has stooped down and with His finger stirred the pot of illusion,
And the drop-bubbles are leaping in wild, jubilant commotion.
Surely some of my companions through the ages must be caught in the turmoil,
Mad for sight of the Beloved whose compassionate glance will end their sea-toil.
A personal meditation on past friends, not just of his rollicking youth but ‘companions through the ages’.
They are seen as fellow voyagers across the seas of experience. ‘Out of a barrel’ in verse 1 refers to the barrels on ships that held rum for the sailors.
He doesn’t need to pray for them, knowing that God cares for all (Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Mt 10:29 ) and is also within everything, even the sprawling inebriate.
All eventually will reach the goal of union, having deleted one word, which must be, I guess, the word “mine”.
The ‘jubilant commotion’ of the drop-bubbles is still occluded by many world factors but is no doubt still happening from the stirring of the Advent. Francis had lived in two worlds, an earlier one of the bohemian artistic and intellectual life of Melbourne and the later one of Sufism and Baba.
Even a personal reflective poem like this still rings out with the power of his conviction, and his dependence on Grace.