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Festus - Xxx - Poem by Philip James Bailey
Thence earthward tending, first we make the sun;
Where, as at rest in light, a mediate point,
A bright effect original of God,
Enlightening all things, inly and externe,
'Twixt earth and heaven, our soul heroic now
The spirit beloved, progressive, earlier met
In satellite sphere, and kindred throne, imbue
With sense of being aeonian. Only thus,
As we advance in life perfective, soul
Sums accurately the future forming force
Of failures passed; for failures are all faiths
Though each to educable man once good.
The spirit inquisitive of the long foregone
By natural barriers checked, at last all bounds
Of birth and death views vanish; eyes the dawn
Eternal of creation.
The Sun.--Festus, Angela, Lucifer, Ouriel, Guardian Angel, Luniel.
Festus. Soul of the world, divine necessity,
Servant of God, and master of all things,
Here, in the orb of light's eternal noon,
First see I all things clear; from end to end
The divine cycle of the soul of man;
How spirit and soul, mind, life, flesh, feeling, mix,
Reciprocate as the elements; how too flow
The streams of feeling, passion's cataracts;
How rise, how sink, mine, mountain, this of pride
And that of covetousness. Such is, man to know.
The human universe and the divine, and fate
Central: know all must be fulfilled that is
Of nature; of sin and strife, peace, righteousness,
Change and destruction, ere the earth can take
New life, or man God's minister become.
All things are means for greater good. Thou, sun!
Art just a giant slave, a god in bonds;
The summit--flower of all created life
Is its unition with divinity,
In essence, yet existence separate.
If heaven and all its stars depend on earth,
Then may eternity upon time; but earth's
A crumb of heaven, and time an atom sole
Of eternity: neither pends on other; both
One essence being, emanant from God,
Whose flowings forth are aye and infinite.
One only truth hath consequence, God's truth
Inspirited in man. The world may act,
Believe, bless, curse it's way as best it lists;
Expend a vain life solemnizing points
Uncertain as the site of Paradise
Or Hades' area: one thing sure to us;
Whate'er we expect in time or place to be,
No future disappointment can be more
Than that we are now to ourselves. We make our hearts
Centres of all hopes, powers, rewards; nor deign
Scarcely to circumscribe our life, so vast
The thought of our own merit, remembering not
That, solely as its imaginary, exists;
This, only as intelligible, and not
Substantial; draw life therefore as we may
It fails to match the true invisible,--
Pure, as some virgin visionary's dream
Of sanctity, still consociable with love,
Or perfect faith's regenerative wave;--
Whereafter we contend. It is come to this.
One state of life with me hath passed away.
Aught henceforth that may matter be of doubt,
To me is indifferent, not of interest. I
That only love that's certain. Me no more
The spirits of the bright impalpable life
Shall throng round as the wind some mountain--top;
Nor watery lightfulness of ghostly eyes,
Belonging heavenly forms informed with light,
Impose their spell of record under pain.
The inspiration quits me; it is gone
Like a retreating army from the land
It twice hath wasted; the long gleaming mass
Snakelike, at last hath wound itself away,
And left me weak and wretched. None again
Of all the starry tribes of museful mien
Shall visit me; their leave revoked, henceforth,
Restricted to perfection, earth they quit.
True, albeit, I loved them more than life.
I felt myself made sacred by their touch;
But they are gone, and there is nought on earth
Left with their beauty comparable. It seems
I held me wholly assured; discrediting
Once and for aye all doubts. What doubts forsooth,
And all hell's hosts obscure, grief generative,
Should henceforth shake me? Fiery shadows, hence!
I have outbraved ye once: I scorn ye now.
Is't not enough that I to myself have sworn,
All things to acquit for one; truth's needled rays
For truth's one sphere; the mean for the supreme;
The dubitable power for that orb--throned?
I have, yet is not soul God's echo. Mind
And matter are proportioned in all worlds
The father they and mother of all things.
And earth hath favour over crowds of stars.
Earth let me then reseek. It suits not now
To plunge in pleasure, or to passion stoop,
The lion--honey of the heart which speaks,
And dwells in, life corrupted. Thirst no more
For lore, or joy, the heart distracts, nor meet
I' the brain with dizzying mixture, they. Be it mine
To hope not yet all things concluse; nor fate's
Broad arrow sped, but from its living bow
God's lips, defixed, may yet to sheaf return.
If suffering expiated offence, then they
Who have suffered most, have most maybe, atoned.
Earth--like, the heart must bide all change ere yet
The heaven--life form within it, and we feel
Midst all the world's delights, and life's desires
That chastity of heart which loves but God.
Lucifer. Lo! I am one who waits not to be sought.
It is from this mighty orb, Time's solar brood,
How many or how far soe'er, are born;
And here, if chance or destiny hath bade
Converge our courses, it were doubtless well.
Festus. Would I could well reply to word of thine.
Lucifer. All mysteries once I warned thee thou shouldst ken,
Nor mazèd stand at aught: that promise now
I honour; and will show thee thou hast been
Thyself the all thou seest. Ere every birth,
The spirit, baptized into forgetfulness,
Sloughs off the oppressive consciousness of years,
Soul--saddening as with thunderstorms of thought.
But leave is mine and power devolved of God,
With reminiscence of Time's foresped tides,
Thy memory to endow; and from the passed
Evoke eternal pictures; for the world
Itself is but an outline manifold,
And surface of true essence. Underneath
That superficial veil is nought but God.
Festus. Draw it and die.
Lucifer. Not yet. It irks not me
That thou wouldst aye, from this to that extreme,
Hie with a footstep as of polar light,
All sequence mocking; urgent when the passed,
Then calling on the future. But this sun,
All life, hath its set service. Be it now
Mine own to show what hath been, and the soul,
Here doting on the merest chance of death,
Its prouder pre--existence, angel--mate
Of immortality, all time foregone.
Souls are not new created, hour by hour,
Like rain--drops; but immortal in the heavens
From form to form pass through eternity.
And now what seest thou?
Festus. Surely, in yonder shape
I see approaching, purer, lovelier, her
Whose spirit enshrined in beauty's crescent star,
With bliss intense lit up my heart; my soul
Steeped in the pearly radiance of her smile;
But here of loftier and more grand aspect,
Nor now by inmost shadows saddened. Speak,
Transcendent spirit; and whom thou seekest say;
Or wherefore here.
Angela. The life of all that's good
Is one perpetual progress. Every thought
That strengthens, purifies, exalts a mind,
Betters the soul so blessing.
Festus. Spirit benign!
Such progress is perfection. It is the power
Of man's perfectibility gives earth
Capacity of heaven. And thou hast left
Yon orb celestial, for this throne of light,
Throne than all empires wider; but while thou
Art here of right and fitness, I of mere
Permission come, and momentary choice.
Angela. To will and to permit with one whose will,
Creative even of all obstructive force,
Is irresistible, were nought but one.
Festus. Thou, too, mine angel guardian!
Guardian Angel. Wheresoe'er
Thou art am I, or far or nigh, to ward
From woe, to watch 'gainst evil, or to warn.
But let the fates proceed. Here all is safe;
Here, 'neath yon mighty ruler, like a god
Blessing his worshippers; for he is found
Most blessing who most serves in godly love.
Lucifer. Yon servant--lord, chained doubtless to his throne;
Such empery be not mine?
Angela. Nay, see, he comes.
Guardian Angel. Lo! Ouriel, regent spirit of the sun.
Ouriel. Were I sole servant of the universe,
As of one starry family, not then
Could I the pride admit thou feelest, fiend,
In ruling or in ruining one poor soul.
The glory of kingship is humility.
Hence knowing every star, for light is here
No more obstructive to angelic eye,
Than night to man's, I know all; and beside,
Hear angel--whispers in remotest heavens;
O'er all, God's will, how strange soe'er, embrace;
And blazon on my breast his holy law.
Whatever its requirements, here obeyed,
Do that ye came for hither. It is fate.
Fate is God's spoken law, and age by age
Concurrent with his written ripely fulfilled.
Guardian Angel. A life, a moment, all is doomed of God;
The aged growth of empire and the fall
Ephemeral of a flower.
Angela. That all are here,
Hosts of the blessèd know; and for what end
Thou, man! shalt learn; and with profound surprise
The volumed ages of the soul unseal,
Time's growth concentric reaping at one glance.
Festus. Hold we, then, passed and future in ourselves?
Angela. Truly. Thy future lightly once I limned,
Leave given, but just so far; and now thy passed,
In shadowy visions, rimmed or cored with light,
I call before thee as in painted clouds.
Festus. Spirit of power, thy teaching wait we; all
Time's marvellous lore of eld thy tenderness
How amiable I know, attempering truth;
For as some primaeval stream, earth--nourishing once,
Whose giant bed a continent here conceals,
Seas here obliterate, by no living land
Named, nor its tideway; but whose course, still graved
Hither as yond, in monumental marl,
'Neath isle, main, mainland lurks, my heart's first flow
Of love, though since, by worlds of life, and ebb
Of years immemorable, as seems, oppressed,
I yet retrace, and footsteps of the flood.
Angela. Forget not; but remember too, how once
On earth the fatal mystery thou besought'st me,
Unconscious what that mystery then comprised,
To ope of thine own nature, while death's seal,
Inviolable upon our natal sphere,
Yet iced my lips; and now wouldst know it still?
Festus. Spirit of beauty, who so late hast known
Death, man's penultimate fate;--O humbled Death!
Inevitable shadow, lackeying life;
Archer, who sinnest never from thy mark!
By God's grace conquered now,--speak on, nor cease.
Angela. God, when he made the heavens precede the earth,
Made in them all celestial substances,
Angel and spirit and life--intelligence,
And soul, if deathless, pre--existent; all
With power of gradual perfectness enriched,
That by successive sense of spheral life,
Refined to common godhood, they might gain
Original bliss. To mortals of thine orb,
Ere now, though few and by full many an age
Sundered, hath he the world--wide wave of light,
From memory's fount revealed, that sage and seer,
And now thyself mightst learn therefrom to live,
By teaching truth from good, and good from truth,
The spiritual sunlife of the soul.
Festus. The air thy breath doth hallow feels to me
Vital with light of truth.
Angela. Truth's holy beam
Disperseth passion, as the moon full orbed
The clouds below her dissipates. Seek henceforth
The soul to purify from mortal love
By an immortal passion. Let no aim
Less than celestial fix thine eye; for soul,
Though pre--essential in a bygone sphere,
Or future form, shows still direct from God.
Guardian Angel. God's providential fates towards earth and man
Have yet to be consummed; and these comprise
More than perchance thou knowest.
Ouriel. One element
Subtracted from the universe, all is death.
All forms material fade; all signs, all modes,
All shapes. The shows of mightiest things shall pass;
And nothing but essential deity
Be and remain.
Lucifer. The element I foresee
To be withdrawn, seems strangely akin to life;
And this to me pertains. The end is nigh.
God justifies my purpose, and permits
Herein my action. Life or death, what now
Matters, to me, or any? All are doomed.
Guardian Angel. We, irrespective of each other's course,
Work, and one only knoweth how all ends.
Lucifer. This know I, that I reck not of the passed.
And for this soul elect, I long have feared
To watch him was spilt time. One trial more!
But Lord! my spirit expands; I long to test
Nations at once; a generation; a race.
Guardian Angel. So be it. The generation now to be swept
From life, in fleshly mould, by earth's dread doom,
The spirits of total man's terrestrial strain,
He added, whom I still tend on, God permits,
As he from first vouchsafed to approve to all,
And thee, divulsive of the world of life,
Its kind and end. Counsel divine I speak.
Those souls secure who prove by sovereign grace
God's will not to necessity thrall, but he,
Lord even of destiny, and source of fate.
Angela. Here, 'mid this world--vast granary of light,
Where the sun's fruitful rays are harvested,
Sit we, and thy passed being's shadowy scenes
See, silent; listening to the tongue of time.
Festus. Silent? Then these be mysteries?
Guardian Angel. Holy, grand!
Lucifer. They to their solar secrets; I to mine;
And mine intents; in number 'minishing,
In nature greatening. Ye will follow soon.
Guardian Angel. Fear not, but I attend him all due times.
Comments about Festus - Xxx by Philip James Bailey
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