Poem 98

The new kings strut across the old stage brandishing the same old rusty sword.
The new singers sing the same old songs urging, pleading the same old reward.

Every ancient idiocy is still being preserved and revered.
Only the song of the demijohn prevents life from becoming too absurd.

The players on the stage may change but the props and the plays are the same old stale things, both in politics and religion. A ‘demijohn’ is a large wine bottle usually enclosed in wickerwork, just the sort of thing they serve in taverns. This is of course the inspiration dispensed in the Beloved’s tavern but these days the doors are often shut, a ‘put-off’ or rebuff that makes times hard. We need the tavern to remember the intricacies of the God as Everything:

But with the wineshop now closed so often it’s sometimes hard to recall
All the modulations of that old favourite, “The Beloved is All in All.”

What with this put-off, Beloved, and all values being bulldozed,
Life will yet become much more difficult than I had supposed.

Like us in our day, Francis had to face an impending sense of coming doom. His understanding of the picture given by Baba makes him gallant and carefree. For all of us the ‘Great Drowning’ is of course when we are finally One with the Beloved.

The dark wave curls up above my little bubble-boat.
Well, he will let me drown or he will keep me afloat.

What is one more drowning, so long as the Beloved blows another bubble?
It’s a long way yet to the Great Drowning which frees one forever from trouble.

As so often the poem ends with a ringing statement of our total dependence on the Will and Plan of God.

Every word we speak or write was already contained in the One Original Word;
Every question that can be asked has already been answered.