Poem 99

I am one who has become lost because he was found;
One who once was music and now is a small thin sound.

Yet for all my hard work in the past I received no reward,
And now that I do nothing my income is unmeasured.

I have nothing further to do with work and reward.
All works were begun and finished in the moment of the First Word.

The traffic flows by, but no one could tell you where he is going:
A harvest of faces waving in the wind ready for mowing.

Every face is a flower blooming on the stem of the Word —
Yet in every face is the sadness of hope too long deferred.

Better than fall to the harvester let our faces be banners of flame
Acclaiming the beautiful Beloved who, though named, is beyond form and name.

Oh, for those nights, Francis, when only the song of the demijohn was heard!
Soon the Beloved will pour from the cask of his silence the wine of His word.

The poem begins with a beautiful paradox perhaps reminding us of the old hymn, “once I was lost but now am found…”. When we are found by him we are lost to all individual self-assertion. No longer identified with his role as poet singer he is ‘a small thin sound’, like the ‘still small voice that is the speaking from God in the wonderful drama with Elijah (1 Kings, 19:12).

Verse 2 continues the paradox. Only after the inaction of surrender is the link with the Beloved established. Then we go beyond all achievement and measurement. As verse 3 says the question of free will becomes irrelevant.

In the outside world the flow of activity continues in illusion like the faces Eliot sees crossing London Bridge in The Wasteland – “A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,”. Each face represents a blooming of the original Word of Creation but are all trapped unaware in serial time.

The sad spectacle brings a rousing call to catch fire with the Beloved’s name (verse 7)

We end with a memory and an abiding, memory of moments when nothing was sensed but the outpouring of Grace, and abiding for the bursting forth of the Beloved pent-up Silence.