Philip James Bailey
Festus - Xviii - Poem by Philip James Bailey
Graced by sweet promise plight on lunar plains,
And 'gainst all ill armoured by spirit divine,
Our seeker of soul's holy mysteries, lift
By spiritual hand from earth's gross vanities;
From cruel lies of false creeds; from all taint
Of treason truthwards, which God's love most just
Towards beings, create aye capable to advance
By self amendment, would impugn, and fain
The fountain of futurity to foretaste,
Dares, angel--led, by God's behest, to trace
Soul, in its reascendant course through all
Heaven's spheres probational, of varied fates,
Essential man, self purifying, must pass;
Views gradually perfectible life's vast whole;
Tells, joyful, wisdom's grand and gracious plan.
A Lake--islet; Lawn; Garden; Grove.--Mountains, Waterfall, and Mainland in the Distance.
Helen, Marian, Student, afterwards Festus.
Helen. Gone? whither?
Student. Know not I. He and his friend
Tramp earth untired, or rather seem on wing
Trackless to travel, he, not unlikely even
His steed sidereal steers where Cepheus sits
Footing the pole; or where the grim orc, long
Death--stiffened into stoniest stars extends
His spatial bulk, who once to engorge the sun
Three days continuously his jaws stretched.
I prithee, or we, like maxillary feat
From thee, may have like cause to rue.
Student. I'm mute.
Helen. Let me propitiate one who half, I fear,
Distrusts my love. Dear Marian, hate me not.
Marian. Nay, I would love thee as of old. Cause none
Have I to 'plain me of thee. With lighter heart
How marvel that thou his love attracted more,
His we both mind us of? than mine, grief fraught,
Of woe to all presageful? If I change,
'Twill be to one who changes not.
Helen. I know
Thy fine and eminent nature, nor believe
Thou wouldst deign to conquer, more than court, the crowd;
As a sacred river, purified of earth,
Albeit bepraised, beprayed, encrowned with flowers,
Ingratiate even by living sacrifice,
Scarce noting its own bounties ripples along,
Reckless of adoration most, so thou,
Calm in life's onflow, towards its endless end.
Student. Good, were life being only; but to know,
To act, with some, seems scarce less than to be.
Helen. True, 'tis with me a passion all to learn
Sainted in sacred song of eld, or proved
By science now; but fear, too much, to attain.
Marian. And when attained, how cheerless!
Helen. Say not so
To fill the soul with knowledge hidden and high
I would brave death this night. Maid, dame of old
Partook all mysteries with the crownèd crowd
Of happy initiates. We yet--
Marian. See, yon skiff
Nearing the shore, makes, with recursant wing,
Surely, some sign recognizant.
Student. Wait. But how
Unless we forcibly and of purpose raise
O'er life's low meannesses the mind, shall we
Fit us for loftier being, powers more intense
Of soul, and mental act; how brook the laws
Compressed into necessities which both rule
And serve the spirit world, we hardily trust
To view, nay sometime gain? To reach and grasp
Mind's rational solidity, to construe
The equivocal oracles of life, our frames
With lives extern conjoined, our spirits with God,
Perplexes most, the clearest.
Marian. Dark howe'er
Time now, like ocean's broadblazed rim of light
Mid--heaven by clouds o'erpent, the future glows
Helen. It may. To me, creation's passed,
Thought's ray re--scaled towards light, howe'er far back,
Seems, than the nearest future, less remote.
Marian. See now, it is no stranger. Yes, we all
I think that footstep welcome, Festus, thine.
Student. It is he, not undesired. The time draws nigh
For our most cherished projects wide to spread
Their world roots, ramifying, of vastest change.
Thy presence was well due.
Festus. I knew it. This
Fair company, one eve at least, shall well
Compensate us for time devote to ends
Eyed sternlier. Yes, it glads me still to meet
Dear Marian, and thee Helen always.
Helen. But thou!
Whence com'st thou? We were wondering whether earth
Held thee, or some more brilliant sphere had lured.
Festus. Too wondrous and too various charms are earth's,
For other star to stay me long. But now
Let me not serious converse hinder. While
My foot, this fair pavilion's shadow touched
Entering, I heard in musical challenge charged
Of passed o'er all the future: nearer, more
Helen. 'Twas mine. Soul's link with God
Shows clearlier in its rise than end. Nor seems
The reason of soul's continuance, of like weight
With that of primal being.
Festus. Seems not? I've seen.
Helen. Nay, let us know. Thy strange friend's stranger creed
Though simple, of death and God, sufficed not thee?
Festus. It could not.
Helen. Oft I think of earth being made;
And here, throned solitary, and face to face,
With the broad universe, I can dream I see
God's very primal act, when earth first showed,
In sudden answer to his thought. Here heaped he
Green hillocks gently uprearing like young colts,
Playful in sunny pastures; mountains, there,
Like hoary spectres in the fabulous glass
Of world--famed wizard, eyed their shadowy shapes
Slow lengthening in the lake, nor guessed how high
Their predeterminate heads would rise, but rose
Responsive, stilly, to his rational word
First uttered then, commensurative of form
Fairest, most high; here, echoing rock and crag,
There, the wild waste, voiced with articulate falls
And winds, all variable of tone:--there, see
In yon disrupted cone the visible stress
Of his vast all--mastering hand;--by bloomy meads
Blue streams he drew life--teeming, lakes like this,
With baby Edens isled; traced out the bounds
Of nations, radiate from their shelving shores;
Parted earth's hemispheres; round land the seas
Sateless, unsociable as death, rolled; last,
Savage and sacred in all innocence, man
Sowed broad--cast o'er his fields, he, sole.
Student. Nor I
Think otherwise, albeit there are who hold
Unmade, self--made, this world, or made by hands
Of angels, 'mongst whose trust the devil his own
So questionable seem some things in their cause,
Their end, their workings. Why are scorpions, snakes,
And poison flowers?
Marian. Be glad we are bid, forewarned,
Not all things inexplicit, to reject.
Festus. It was God from the beginning framed the whole,
Earth, heaven, and into being the angels breathed.
Helen. This, and that all souls made, him reverence owe
For their existence, thanks for life, and hope,
We, duteous, learn from priest and primer; learn
Faith's sacredest traditions, gratefully,
Of life to come; but what's their sum? I'd know
O'er all things, this: how mind's survivable strength
To its elements resublimed, loosed from this build
Organic, lives, acts; how it is soul subsists
Separate; how this that influences, works out
Its kind, here inchoate, in loftier states
Of being. Not all mankind are heroes, saints
Nor predicable angels. Are then the worlds
Peopled by pure intelligences, with one
Sole, fixed idea; one changeless habit; one
Act, mental and eternal? May not some
Fall back even in existence, to low ranks
Festus. 'Twould please you, doubt I not, to learn
Some late experiences of mine.
Student. We all
Long much to hear. Not given up all to gold,
Nor merely frivolous, now thou knowst me, not
To lore mysterious only given, if far
From gabble of popular creeds, in one ear droned
By science, in the other by sheer ignorance.
The masses too, I'd serve, and loyally;
And serve them most by ruling them.
Helen. And I,
All natures I would know; with all I feel
Compassionately; in every generous aim
Join; prize each pure design art, science, owns
As elevative of mind; all projects faith,
Though secularized, can prove of likely good
I love; would further; pray for.
Student. Make us free
Therefore of these pure mysteries of true life
To come, authentic, spiritual, as I thee
Have helped to learn those truths sublime, chief lights
The passed from all her firmament holds towards us,
Of sensible use, soul--gladdening.
Festus. Not in vain
Shall any, truthwards tending, self--impelled
Towards wisdom, test of earnest heart, from me
Ask glorious knowledge, ye, of all, with me
Like meditative of fates to come; who now,
On mine assured experience, shall believe
Soul aye regenerate, progressive, all time
Self--sifted upwards; which, transmuting fires
Spiritual, intelligible, pass through, that fit
For states more eminent than their last, till all
Achieve perfection; each in order due.
Marian. That every soul by penitence hath power
To raise itself to bliss, were joy to know.
Helen. Sit, let us hear. This verdurous dell, flower--rimmed
Like a green bowl o'errunning at the brim
In blooms; yon woods, thick darkening, where, of old,
Lean solitary, bark--clad, his soul from sins
Of pomp, from luxury his heart assoiled,
Prayerwise; and knight, by faintest footsteps, tracked
To the hermit's cell, his love--lorn fair; still stream,
And sultry sky, all suit. Yon mountain, draped
To the foot, in purple mists, whereto the clouds
Their awful gift, as to an altar, bring
Of thunder, sealed,--seems hearkening: we, with ear
To nature's melodies tuned, the vesper chant
Of birds, in blosmy brake; the solemn lapse
Of yon white waterfall, just seen, just heard;
And most, one voice, if with the silvery tones
Resonant, of stars not I should wonder,--wait,
Marian. We listen.
Student. Soul oppressed
With sense of high experiences so all
Transcendant, well may pause. For who feels not,
Eyeing as we now heaven's expanse, and this,
Accomplished daylight; lit by one, Hope's, star,
A sense in him of like infinity, fill
His being, and speak of equal future?
Who in clear midnight's starry hush shall stand
On high and heathery peak, o'erpeering sea and land;
The ocean--glassed immensity of sky
Wooing the spirit to inspect its near futurity;
Or who, when spring's faint crescent, in the skies,
Folds to her breast her burthening world of mysteries,
Pacing some gardened height, or tomb--towned hill,
A capital at his feet, moon--haunted, noiseless, chill;
Ponders those holiest shades earth still reveres
That have earned, each one, his star, mid yon soul--ripening spheres,
The heavenly state perceptible, powers may feel
In him expanding, vie with all the heavens reveal;
Mind's vast innate capacities, which thus
Bind in one common chain, the world, our God, and us.
While lowly faith unfalteringly refers
To treasures, keyless knowledge vainly vaunts as hers,
Man still with decent pride may claim to trace
The grounds whereon his rule of all things God doth base;
Whose justice is our justice, and whose powers,
His, infinite, love and truth, are attributes of ours;
With whom we have communion, and enjoy,
Through rational light, what age nor death can e'er destroy;
For soul, with deity consubstantial, feels
All nature does or bears, each mystery fate conceals;
Which though it wind a thousand different ways
Points ultimately towards God, midst of all Being's maze.
If in yon boundless vault we therefore see
Proofs of an all adapting governing deity;
Gracious in heart and bounteous; greatening man
With sacred gifts, to enjoy and glory in all he can;
Ourselves, even here, considerate of times passed
And future, from earth's prime heroical to her last;
May, communing with all, unblamed, conceive
What godlike ghosts of old shall joy in, or achieve;
Nay, justly speculative, man's coming state,
With heaven's most perfect gifts to him, while earth's, collate;
And meditating the great and reverend names
Time's luminous roll, within its worldwide margin, claims,
Deem how, perchance, their spirits, in spheres refined,
Walk kingly, self--subject; or, with excursive mind,
Where some felicitous sun serenely reigns,
Lead large aethereal lives mid paradisal plains.
I, musing thus, fair Luniel from her sphere
Collucent, which completes, twelve times, its monthly year,
In ours, with the sun conjoined, and yet once more;
'Lighted on spiry crag riven from the rocky shore,
Saw sudden stand before me; all her charms
By her own light chastened, stand, with welcome--waving arms;
For this with spirit--friends; one ageful hour
Brings to perfection fruit, earth scarce had riped to flower:
She, skilled my bosom's inmost thought to tell,
Called, questioning, `Wouldst thou where those astral spirits dwell?'
`Gladly,' I answered, `Angel! would I wend
The world throughout, with thee; searching from end to end,
The bounds of being.' `Wouldst thou life's issues trace
'Tween God and nature lawed,' she said, `to man's vast race,
Earth's mediatized divinity, and learn
By how steep gradients soul may still to heaven return?'
`Liefer than aught on earth,' I answered. `Lo!'
Said Luniel, `then, what thou from him wouldst never know,
Who tempts thy heart with boons of feebler worth;
I am from God empowered to show thee, while on earth.
Remember thou no more, when once are known
These mysteries of the world's progressive round God's throne,
Canst stoop to trifle with life's vanities, now
Abjured, despised.' `I make, I solemnize the vow,'
Said I, `and will abide the wished event.'
`Enough,' said she. Each knelt in silence, soul content.
Then, stood. And now the rift she crossed between
Our rocks, in ebon shade half, half in argent sheen;
Saying, `Eye well yon starry arch on high,
Wherein the eternal scales of justice cope the sky.
Lo, there the lists of trial; there the fields
Of triumph God, to souls in good persistent, yields.
Thousands of years souls preexistent may,
In line with laws celestial, take earth's downward way;
Who take, death--freed, the ascent towards heavenly life,
Through tests perfective, tests wherewith all worlds are rife,
Are blessed; and these it is mine to mix with: mine
To encourage, to sanctify in striving for divine
Communion; and the spirit elect prepare
Heaven's feast intelligible, boundless, of truth, to share.'
`All this,' said I, `I burn to learn; my breath
Seems worthless, all not known, even parenthetic death.'
Tranced while I stood thus 'neath her fixèd eye,
My spirit stole softly forth towards hers, as midst the sky
Steals forth a starlet in the gloaming, none
Wist how. `Behold me,' I; space--hungering to be gone.
`Rise,' said the angel, flashing forth her hand,
Which, touchless, mine sustained as doth the invisible band
Betwixt the aërial fish stretched, both uphold.
Swifter than happiest times winged we, where meteors rolled
Passed; blank vacuity passed, where air most thin
Nought leaves for light's relays to range or revel in.
Far as in space morn's first faint beamlets shine,
From those still steeps of heaven where evening's shades decline,
Rose we, each breath; and ere the sunken sun,
Gloomed by earth's westward limb, our mounting eye might shun,
One glimpse we caught, our last, of the sea--flood broad,
Edged with extremest light like the hem of the garment of God:
Passed all the erratic spheres, where penitent kings
Mid soul--crowds, conscience--touched, all grades, all shades, of things
Terrestrial, sensual, sinful learn to' eschew;
Here, grouped for mutual strength; here, sparse, a loftier few;
But each, their elevance to the All--Pure, above
Out--working:--passed all orbs sun--circling; forward move
Till the whole space our petty system spanned,
Showed like the scattered nest of ostrich on the sand.
`Worlds variable and changeful,' spake my guide,
`Meet for terrestrial spirits are found, sin--purified,
Self saved. Who certain bliss, bliss sealed, have gained
Bide in these steadiest stars, unaltering, unconstrained;
All,--planets, satellites, suns, but as a base
Serve for the greatening powers of man's divinized race,
Imperfect, but aspiring through all time,
Up to the highest heaven ambition's star may climb.
For as a lightning thought, a glint o' the eye,
Will fruit, through dreams, into a life's eternity;
So, all mind's varied faculties which now
Nor time's demands, nor bodily need, due scope allow,
Shall, 'neath God's hallowing eye, matured, expand,
Those wisest ends to attain he from the first hath planned;
And sanctify the simplest soul, their shrine,
Brightening from world to world through every sacred sign.'
While poised, now, o'er the belted clouds we stood
Of a giant sun, and all its marks, its movements, viewed;--
`Boundless as are God's works, in all these spheres
One mediate spirit,' I said, manlike, `allwhere appears.
With whom, I see, commingling free, the soul
Humane now learns to obey, now teaches to control;
Thy word in all confirmed which first I learned
In yon orb, now with earth as double star discerned.'
`Herein,' said Luniel, `view to whom heaven's Lord
The privileges of power, soul dominance doth accord.
Here, elevated, inspired, and purified,
By conscience, man's inventive mind, so closely allied
To God's creative spirit, revises, mends
Its projects, and passed feats remoulds to worthier ends.
Kings, patriots, heroes, here, and potentates
Found empires day--broad, march to achieve supremest fates;
There, conquerors haste, with armies of the light,
The cloud--topped towers to o'erturn of evil's tyrant might;
Toil, with all moral life--force, wrath's allied
Forces, fivefold to unbind, deceit, doubt, passion, pride;
Wage truceless war on cruelty, and advance
Their fiery hosts to invade thy realms, black Ignorance!
There, just usurpers humiliate, dethrone
Huge errors that devour souls; sins, demoniac grown
By pamperings unrestrained; demurest vice,
Idolatrous; and false faiths that spirits from God entice.
Look, and behold what time thou wilt. This hour
Give I to thee.' I looked, and, grateful, blessed the Power.
Nimrod, here haughty now, no more, unless
'Gainst pride, pursued, we viewed, through the obscure wilderness
Of worldly life, almost like this of ours,
Monsters, but now, of sin; and so to virtuous powers
Self--thralled, that fearing most the popular frown
He flings, in cavernous depths his loved, star--patterned crown.
Sesostris, there, war's patriarch, seeks his place,
Lowliest, mid chiefs, with joy, captive of conquering grace.
Here, violated states and murdered kings,
Navé's stern son now counts as vilest, worst of things;
And empires to possess, or land's increase,
Leads on God's hosts elect to victories won by peace
Persuadent, which nor woe nor wound e'er leave
No hate, no heart for theft of throne or state to grieve;
Nor deems, now, God, the all--pitying, could dictate
Horrors, that merciless fiends would shrink to perpetrate:
But, with heaven's saving help; 'mong those who have erred
Makes, for his chosen, way, by one conversive word,
Miraculous. Cyrus, there, of life assured
Deathless, forenamed of God, by carnal bribe unlured,
Vast tracts subdues, huge zones of doubt and sin;
The infinite of defect we feel our souls within.
Here Indian Rama his generous battle forms,
Routs every demon foe; wrong's every fastness storms
That innocence would constrain, or help defile
The spirit divinely chaste which lives but in his smile,
Her lover's and her lord's; and, grown more pure
Through suffering and suspense, love's union makes more sure.
The youth Pellaean, here, who at Babel died,
And since, through many a sphere hath expiated his pride,--
For spirits of every rank defectible made,
Gain but through time and test and proof, perfection's grade,
Smiles now, as in God's cause new worlds to win,
He hails, and aids to assoil from soul--debauching sin.
There Scipio by victorious virtue more
Spirits enthrals, and frees, than conqueror e'er before.
Alaric, here, his lightning legions heads
Of virtuous spirits 'gainst vice, the spheres o'erruns; nor dreads
To attack the dominant sins that long have ruled
Earth--life,--intemperance, pride; attacks, subdues, self--schooled.
There Xerxes to his will all elements binds
Serve they but plans to enlarge or to enlighten minds.
Here, Brutus, Caesar, there, firm friends enrolled,
Born social order this, that, sense of rights to uphold,
With Pericles now unite, and Charlemagne,
Soul freedom and God's peace imperial to maintain.
Again through soundless space, windlike through light,
Successive bars we pierced, and passed, of day and night;
Till midst a new celestial group we stood
High 'mong star magnates, first of the solar brotherhood,
Where various angel tribes in ordered grades
Of social mind, I marked, God's law e'er forms or aids.
Here, Solon, prince of the proverbial seven,
Heads his constellate seers, the lawgivers of heaven.
Manou, there, Konfutze, new codes dictate
Of equity, and between vexed orblets arbitrate;
For worlds may wrong each other in thought, as ours,
Far spheres, with doubt that God them fills with sentient powers.
Here Moses, Minos, Numa, laws decree
Morals and faiths that now with truth alone agree,
Humanity and pure right. Zaleucus, there,
God's ordonnances, which e'en, while drawing earthly air,
In part, he knew, prepares; and justice proves
One with the Beauteous Spirit who all things makes and moves.
Lycurgus, here, his soul--state arms; and, life
From luxury freed, with sin bids, heads, perpetual strife.
Pythagoras, there, convokes with potent sign
Of discipline perfect, high societies proved divine
By love of concord, and the austere delight,
To serve by good deeds God, the wordless Infinite.
He, lord of golden numbers, gladdening sees
Creation's fourfold fount and heavenly harmonies.
Here, Plato's soul full orbed, the absolute true
Enjoys, the good, the fair; here, labouring to renew
Some holier commonwealth, a crown obtains
Kingly, in the very stars where banished Justice reigns,
God's delegate. Here, Euhemerus, there, More
Found, in Utopian worlds, the states they feigned before.
Mohammed, there, God's unity, end and cause
Boasts of one conquering faith, sole base of rights, dues, laws.
There, Zenghis, here, Akbar God law proclaim;
Fuse and unite all faiths 'neath one world--hallowing name.
Meet Alfred, Ina here, kingwise arrayed;
State--rules and codes confer; and now, a mightier shade
Self--crowned, and matched with great Justinian's fame,
These orbs with heartiest trust, welcome, and shrewd acclaim;
Who conquering all first, vanquished then, his realm,
Inner, of law bequeathed, force none could overwhelm.
Swiftlier through shining aether than the ray
Darts forth of polar light, we spirits our spacious way
Cleave, to seats lovelier, where the ripened fruits
Of wise humanity glow; the errors faith transmutes
To judgments just, as generous; the loves, hates,
Like holy, righteous heaven adopts, reciprocates.
Zenon, here, Stilpon, Epicurus find
Fit spheres to sway, wherein to mould the ductile mind,
Of fallible cast, to wisdom; and incite
Souls purified to adore the Virtue Infinite.
Here, Aristotle's keen discursive sense,
Ranging from tiniest life to sheer Omnipotence,
All things defines, demonstrates Being's cause;
New moral rules propounds; plans new illative laws.
Prodicus, here, the path of righteous life
Points, holy, manly as ere, and soul's ennobling strife
'Gainst treacherous vice. There Socrates, the wise,
Inspired, immortal, death life's fugitive foe, defies;
And knowing now man's thought the measuring rod
Of all things, all things knows, and knows things all in God.
Cebes the tablet there of life mundane
Unrolls, and pious troops leads towards the Eternal's fane,
Truth's temple, on virtue's golden strata based,
And with the o'ersheltering roof of faith celestial graced.
No more, here, Pyrrho doubts; but certified
Of deity, in his soul contemns all thought beside.
Here, to all wisdom's inexhaustible spring
His mind, of truth insatiate, brings, and aye longs to bring,
Tully; here, sifts his philosophic store;
Fines and refines, till all he owns is purest ore
Of probity, polity, right; the chieftest good
Soul can embrace, where'er in life, in death, pursued.
`Clear patriot shade,' I said, `to the end of days,
Thy land's applause, God's calm approof hear; all men's praise.'
His dream august, here, Laelius verifies,
And with star--ruling spirits, resumes life's happiest ties,
Eternized. There, the lame Neronian slave
Basks before God; and bids in face of fate, be brave
Earth's trembling orb; on nature's ends relies
Truth, conscious rectitude; still holds those only wise,
Free, who, prepared alike to live or die,
Their natural will with God's--so fate's--identify;
Heaven's thrall, ere man's. With him, the imperial sage
Joins hands; man's inborn sense of God to every age
Revealing, our own being, misconceived
By us, asserts divine, and proves what he believed.
Here world--wise Seneca to shining throngs
God's presence shows by right to sinless souls belongs;
Still holds eternal life their boon and prize
That love God, souls divine their virtue deifies:
Proves coarsest passions may, by tact refined
Of duteousness and faith, broaden and exalt the mind;
And avarice, even, by wondrous holihood
Of spirit, be changed to covetousness of all men's good.
Here, Apuleius from sin's gross disguise
Soul--freed, now hierophant of holiest mysteries,
The reborn soul foreshows, despite its fall,
Its self--wrought rise, and ultimate union with the all
Essential One. Plotinus, there, disrates
His spirit no more, but oned with that he contemplates
In vision beatific, sums the whole,
Man's vast particular, God's the universal soul.
There, Proclus glorying in all bliss to be,
His soul imbathes in depths of fontal divinity.
Instant, as flies man's thought from earth to heaven,
When, peace imploring, God his pardoning grace hath given
To penitent soul--a world we make, whence streamed
Light soothing, strengthening light; the gates of heaven it seemed.
`Lo! here, the pious priests of every creed
Who the sole One served; and pure themselves, would intercede
For man as race, as people, as tribe, as soul;
No fanes here,' Luniel said; `all heaven one templed whole.'
`Nor more need we, dear spirit,' I said, `below,
Were purity but a plant earth freelier learned to grow.
For not in priestly vestments, broidered bright,
And various as the hues wherewith rich autumn dight,
Blazons inbred decadence; not in pile
Of plate, nor golden cup; in arch, nor dim--roofed aisle;
Nor victim crowned with flowers, whose fragrant breath,
Blends with his last low moan, in commonalty of death,
Lies our acceptableness, nor ever lay;
'Tis to man's spirit and heart God sole regard doth pay.
The prayer inspired 's prayer granted. This alone
Know we. We give thee thine. Thou tak'st but that's thine own.
Nor can our limited foresight swerve thee, Lord!
From aught thy heart hath planned, or penned in fate's record.
Nought can we lend thee, Lord! that's first not thine;
Nought add by deed to thy felicitousness divine,
Save this, to serve our fellow men. Who thus
Serve man, serve God. Nought less, 'tis all he asks from us.
Said Luniel, `hour, hour urgeth. Ears and eyes,
More than lips, use.' Abashed, I strove for silence' prize.
Towering mid saintliest throngs, from every clime,
From all spheres culled, from the midst, the end, the birth of time,
Great Origen here I viewed, and heard rehearse
God's love, sire, saviour, soul of the rational universe:
No longer heretic deemed, to all he proves
That all God made in bliss essentially he loves;
And if erring pities. Sage in charity, now he sees
Secured, the first--fruits, there, of God's great victories
O'er rebel evil through triumphant grace,
Which, infinite, must at last all finite foes efface.
There, Anius, Melchi--zedek, in one rite
Of thanks to God most Highest, the Infinite One, unite.
Theano, here, Sibyl, and holy maid,
Virgin of sun, or moon, in dazzling forms arrayed;
Their crowns, inscrutable with sublime device,
And garlands, wove from flowers fadeless of paradise,
Serve now the Fatherly Spirit, whose every beam
Is life--light to the soul inspired by love supreme.
`So spiritual,' said Luniel, `all things here
That many a sight thou seest more strange may seem than clear.
But know, wherever the divine desire
Of good, burns; heart--born flame conceived of heavenly fire;
Where'er celestial youth may yet be taught
Wisdom, or deeds devout of virtuous valour wrought;
Where purity of mind may yet be instilled;
Or breast with high resolves beneficent, be fulfilled;
Where holy unsuccess, sustaining grace
May ask, receive,--there view, be sure, each angel face,
In--streaming strength; there, every holy muse,
Her art now hallowed, learns through all spheres to diffuse;
For God all various beings both can make,
And sanctifying, can bless for his dear creatures' sake;
No fleshly god, no man--made idol still,
His solitary repute usurping in their will.'
`Kindly as God may act,' said I, `towards one,
The spirit elect, unjust can Justice be to none:--
This, favoured by priority and degree
Of bliss; yet all, at last, must taste his clemency.'
Far faring as an eye--blink of the sun
Which,--when some envious cloud, its course abortive run--
Heat--molten, evanisheth--shows to wakeful eye
Star--studying, isle or hill snow--swathed, 'neath Martian sky,
In just such time as thought's from thought discerned,
We arrived, where once to be my mind e'er strongliest yearned;
Where nature's realms with spirits sublimest teemed
Elysian realms, most meet for shadowy gods meseemed.
There, many a bard and prophet, prone to stray
Mid stars, rejoice to enjoy perfection's widening way;
The liberties supreme God aye appends
To rational souls self--vowed to high and virtuous ends.
Here, David jubilant harps his praise; while round
Concordant, angel strings,--as mountains light--the sound
Snatch, and with choicer art, zeal more intense,
Blend with those blessèd lays world--broad benevolence;
In all lands these proclaiming God's elect
Who, him best honouring, strive most good manwards to' effect.
Isaiah's spirit, there, winged with fiery pens,
Soothly forebodes all worlds, as once this world of men's,
Of divinized humanity, in state
E'en lowliest, that o'er death shall yet predominate;
Of Nature, heavenly bride, and mother--may,
By the Holy Spirit impregned, pure still as dawning day;
Man's universal sonship breathing through
The spell predictive, once incredible; now known true.
There, with a billowy grandeur sweeps along,
In strains of tidal strength, more beauteous still than strong,
Valmiki; he his gods heroic leads
Through vast emprises, hymns their world enlightening deeds;
Enfranchised nature glorifies with man;
And animal life, redeemed, rounds in heaven's kindliest plan;
With friendliest Vedists, there, no more the force
Of elements hymns, but serves their sole, creative Source.
Orpheus anew there chants the adventurous strain,
And starry voyage of saints athwart the aërial main;
Founds, here, new rites; and to perfection brings
The continent soul self--ruled, self--trained to heavenly things.
Here, haply, Homer's awful shade amends
His lay, and powers divine and human, sings, as friends
Pure and impartial, not contestful, urged
By fate to fraud or strife, prayer--bribed these, those sin--scourged.
Seeks Hesiod, there, in heaven's exterior stars
The birth divine of virtue, views Time's Titanic wars,
Of good 'gainst evil--vile Typhonian power!
Not unforedoomed, nor yet slain in its culminant hour;
Renewed to happier issue. Æschylus, here,
Thunders, in verse divine, the same oracular seer
As erst in Greece, his prophesies of man,
Sin--shackled, God--loosed, throned;--heaven's vast triadic plan,
For the educable soul. There Sophocles,
Heart--racked no more by sense of man's mean destinies,
His lyre with joy--wreaths crowns to extol the worth
Of immortality's new career, the spirit's rebirth.
Here, sad Euripides, from earth's orbèd tomb,
Greets all humanity saved; knows wherefore and by whom.
Alcaeus, Sappho, here, their loves renew;
Impassioned, now, those twain towards love divine and true.
Cleanthes, and the Pleiad bardlets, now,
Their mutual love, and ends self--less, heart--oned, avow;
In God's perpetual lauds, in justice' praise,
By practice, they both show, and walk in, virtue's ways.
Pindar, Corinna, Flaccus, now sustain
With hymnists of all times, a loftier, holier strain;
God's love teach, and the prize of that pure strife
'Gainst sin, Olympian souls are crowned with, heavenly life.
Here, learns Lucretius' master--mind to see
Amidst heaven's seminal orbs, the indwelling deity,
Not beauty sole, nor yet, for wrong once done,
Mere wrathful force; but love, truth, justice all in One.
Joy Virgil's heart there rays forth, as he sees
The blessed results of soul's abstergent penalties,
And righteous meeds of justice, most divine
When, moderatest, her beam towards grace may most incline.
To worlds here Ovid still their birth chants; strives
Their tribes to instruct with truth; the purity of their lives
Best faith computes; best worship this, to instil,
In all souls, love of good, souls self--transformed from ill.
Here Lucan views, with philosophic soul,
One deity who creates, contains, rules, loves the whole.
Boethius, here, Synesius, sing and teach
Altern in heartiest hymns the God all natures preach,
The simple infinite Deity, world--adored;
By man, by angel; earth's, creation's, heaven's one Lord.
Fardusi, there, some angel spirit foresent
Of God 'gainst evil--sworn to wreck the firmament,--
Vaunts, and the triumph tells of heavenly good
O'er sin, the enchantress vile, and all her fiendish brood.
Here Saadi, Djami, there, God's mystic love
Whisper, to skiey saints their secret lore to prove,
Sign oral of the Ineffable; or show,
'Neath word--veils, truths half hid, souls dread yet seek to know.
Ossian, there, hails the eternal spirit sun,
The deity who to all gives life--light, takes from none.
Here, Kaedmon hymns to listening worlds, the mind
All formative, infinite; yet in finite form defined
In nature, in the soul, in sacred life,
In each sustaining force wherewith the world is rife.
There, Milton soars and sings; here, Dante steers
His spectral barque, night--sailed, o'er time's unfathomed years;
Though neither, happily, finds, by God's good will,
Room in his boundless world for endless woe, nor ill.
While each, with penitent majesty, confess
God everywhere, and where he lives, he lives to bless.
There, Shakespere's spirit, conceptual of the passed,
Sweeps space, a giant ghost; and leaning upon the blast,
Rounds many a sphere, notes all things, and surveys
Sad, penetrative, benign, life's least and largest ways.
Boiardo, Spenser, and of many a lay
The weird inventors there, all nature's vast array
Of marvellous novelties revel in, nor find
Proof but of generous power, where'er creative, kind.
Here Camoens and Ercilla, warlike strains
Alternating with high deeds of courage which disdains
To compass less than conquest of a state,
Some world realm thralled of sin, truth would emancipate,
Him join, who Salem liberate sang; and now
The blessed assaults records, and leads, 'neath saintly vow
Of hosts who time's long battailous path have trod,
To win, as victors, heaven by force, the peace of God.
There Pope's, Young's, Thomson's shades, devout, sublime,
God in all nature trace, trace, in the eternal time.
Here Chatterton's proud spirit, self--humbled, seeks
Sin's forged delights to expose; here, virtue's champion, speaks
Mid young enthusiasts for the all true and pure,
His love; and shows how faith, most tried, is brave to endure.
There Maddalo's stainless soul, of happiest birth,
Springs to embrace in heaven the God he missed on earth.
Through many an interstellar space, thought winged
We glide, where broods of nebulous stars their sires enringed,
Heat lavishing these, those elemental light
Hoarding, ere on the void, though eager, loosed for flight,
To orbs, where dominate strange new forms of truth;
Where age heart--ripening melts in soul perfective youth;
Where demigods of science faith befriend;
Their theories prove; intent God's glory to extend;
Seeking in him, not apes, nor mites, the rise
Of man's superior life, lost in archaic skies.
With the Phoenician priest, here, deep discourse
On chaos, vital winds and nature's plasmal force
Holds Thales; here, his crude imaginings,
On mundane rudiments mends, and the primal seeds of things.
Here, Euclid his indevious problems frames
For nascent orbs, and proves by space--drawn diagrams
Truths spiritual, eterne, of import vast,
More even than all--not slight--time 'neath his name hath massed.
Meton here, through recurrent cycles trains
Star--spirits to union earth's scarce yet with heaven's attains,
Though urged by many an age. The Assyrian seer
Nameless, who named the stars, fire--christening every sphere,
'Neath skies here thicklier lamped, with Egypt's priest
By Nile celestial, hails, delighted, fields increased
For astral parables wherein sagest mind,
Quick with mysterious truth, can loose the heavens or bind.
There, Archimedes finds the point he would
Of leverage to uplift this world, all worlds, to good;
Finds in God's infinite will all souls to bless
The stand--point whence to start, the goal--his righteousness.
No longer Ptolemy, courtly, celebrates
Feats fabulous of far stars, but judges rational fates
By virtuous influences of saintlier spheres,
Souled with the great and good of heaven's all--hallowing years.
New solar laws, here, Kepler and the Pole,
Wisest of all who watched the worlds round Night that roll,
Interpret spiritually; with finest skill
Showing how all results must gravitate to God's will.
How his attractive love unites and binds,
Godwards, time's general soul, earth's individual minds:
And how all heavenly systems men devise
Hath each true archetype in God's eternal skies.
Here, Galilei shows how truest creeds
Truths warmliest welcome, such so proved by kindliest deeds.
Learns Newton here new laws orbicular; bides
The age--long lapse of years eternity divides
With time, in conning new organic frames
Of mundane being; life, here, from ignorance reclaims
Heavenwards; and loyal to his gracious force
Who to all beings prescribes their interactive course,
Now shows this world how truth with science sides,
Now, that; and like a god in passing, times their tides.
There, Flamsteed and Laplace through fineless space
Detect in mightiest ease the sunstar's nebulous race;
Through all its varied vastness, and combine
More marvellous proofs to adduce of mechanism divine;
How every system faith unveils to view
Based on one mighty plan, congruous, one end pursue;
Prove how, too, from one solar truth made known,
Godwise, all worship spreads concentric round his throne.
Dalton the ultimate motes of spheres contrasts
As framed by God's good will, which all precedes, outlasts,
Nor anywhere twin atoms meets, to chance
Compellant, prone to ascribe their world--genetic dance.
Lavoisier, there, the elements of all things
Solves, and at will compacts; and their constituent springs
From form crystalline and unmattered force,
With delicacy divine, tracks to their parent source.
Here, Galen's soul devout life's mysteries,
Mid spheral forms more fair than human, loves to seize.
Buffon, there, Cuvier, Harvey, all renew,
Self vowed to God, their worship of the All--good and true;
Still, study as once on earth, the laws of life;
Still, prove with how exact beneficence all are rife;
Still, youthful worlds teach wisdom, as of old,
Earth's sages, truth by truth their holier lore unrolled.
Hutton, Deluc, here, Werner many a globe
Fire--cored, rock girdered search; bent, reverently, to probe,
In emulous love of sacred knowledge, all
The secrets God hath shrined in each celestial ball.
Linné, here proven in vegetive life still sees
Mind; and in moss minute, even as in mightiest trees,
Whose growth is as an empire's--marks One soul
Of ever developing perfection guide the whole.
Lieuwenhoeck, there, in life invisible learns
The infinite hidden, and still, that God, revealed, discerns
Who covenants but with life create, by laws
Inviolable: himself their substance, sum, end, cause.
Here D'Holbach, Volney, Hume while scanning spheres,
And time's concentric course midst heaven's all--arching years,
Find law itself miraculous; truth imbase
On outward knowledge, faith, in the inmost conscience place;
Science supreme of things known, things believed,
And, faith conceded, truth show as in God conceived.
Swifter than sad Electra, love--wild, driven
In narrowing spirals sunward turned, coursed we through heaven,
Until, full late, one outpost orb of space
We near, and, landing, view, invention's dwelling--place.
Here, daughter of necessity, abide
Thy patient sons, till, by success indemnified
For all their toil, and hallowing every aim
To God's great ends, they graft on his the creature's claim
Ingenuous, to depart to happier stars
Where time all just intents matures, ill only mars;
Gives to oblivion folly, and records
Imperishably, all deeds of good, all wisdom's words;
All truth's thoughts. Here, discoverers of all arts
Reign midst their several crafts, each skill to each imparts,
Soul--generous. Here, explorers search new fields
Of thought to invade; each hint angelic legend yields
Of holy commerce with more genial spheres,
Richer perchance in grace, so globe to globe appears,
Near eyed, and ignorant of the countless plans
God hath to increase the bliss of worlds; the angel man's
Powers to communicate, and such means to use
As, dropped on distant orbs, may boundless good diffuse.
Here, Colon wings his thoughts to far off spheres,
Hid in the viewless deeps of nature's earliest years;
His soul, here, feeds on sparse prophetic strains,
Compared, of sundry suns; oft eloquently sustains
His justly reasoned hope that, there, mid space,
One ultimate earth must be, soul's happier dwelling place,
In virtues, blessings rich, in gold, and gems--
Intelligible--that deck angelic diadems;
And here, his hero followers, pleased, equip
'Neath their high ensigned dove, the Spirit's celestial ship,
Manned by their holy and apostolic crew
Peace minded, who with love all worlds, all souls, subdue.
Fleet as the mindful glance, night come, each star
Sends to his brother spheres, familiar though afar,
Measure to us, how from its central place
To orbit scarce seen light can, leaping, vanquish space,
The angelic wing unwearied rapt our flight
Through rings of dazzling air, walled by untempered night,
To worlds where spirits sincere, of holiest cast,
And lowliest wisdom, life in love and worship passed.
Said Luniel, `Start not in this gracious land
Where wider ends than earth's, and loftier heavens expand,
Time's grandest, holiest, worthiest souls to view
Still speculative of themes that variously the true
Invariable concern; for not alone
Does certainty all suffice; man's spirit adores the unknown;
Nor paradise to one scant spot confined,
But planted once, world--wide spreads various as man's mind.'
As bidden, I look, and every soul--king see
A--glow, like level suns with glad solemnity.
There Verulam's spirit mid nature's highest recess,
Serves, handmaid with herself, the eternal bounteousness;
Wisdom all potent preaches; and proclaims
Omniscience highest of all the Self--existent's names.
Great Albert and Erigena truths exchange
Current 'mong gods; with reach half heavenly prearrange
The philosophic schools of youthening spheres.
Fire--sainted Bruno, there, now freed from ignorant fears
Of blind fanatic priests who shamed the creed
They vainly mouthed, affirms God all in thought and deed;
The world an emanation of his mind;
And man's free spirit in God dilate, not undefined.
The shade Cartesian, here, with thought supreme
Pregnant, still broods on Being's one all comprising theme;
Still seeks of every spirit from stranger star
The inborn truth all hold, `because God is, we are.'
Malebranche his quest for truth, there, aye renews;
And verifies--but in God--the vision he pursues;
In him the sovereign truth, the essential whole,
Sees all things, through the mean of the universal soul.
Here, Berkeley's genius quickening all his dreams
In sense supernal blends what is with all that seems;
And shewing naked mind the synonym
Of all perfections, makes it God, or equals him.
There, blessed Spinoza's spirit, as heaven sublime,
In God finds all extent, all thought, all place, all time;
And, as a skiff wind--driven some stream to mount,
Hies, filled with breath divine, towards Being's eternal fount.
Clarke's soul triumphant, here, to all create
God's unity, central truth, inspired to demonstrate,
On high persists adoringly to prove
Him, through all attributes, one, the world constructive Love.
Foretuned on earth, there, Leibnitz' spirit still hears
The harmonies of mental mixed with material spheres,
And hails with righteous and regenerate zest
The eternal heavens as still most perfect, happiest, best.
Ah! paint who can, the sweet and rapturous fire
That thrills the praiseful souls of that God hallowing choir.
Locke, here, and analytic Kant, man's mind,
Though limited by defect, yet virtually undefined,
Search with deliberate piety, test, compare
With demons, angels, or intelligences more rare;
Nor fixedness find in creatural knowledge; nought
Certain, in scope or grasp of man's most serious thought
Save, base and sum of purest reason, this;
God only is true being, and being true, only bliss.
There the great Swede, ascetic seer, God--graced
In flesh, with speech of spirit, acts monitor--wise; so placed
That conversant whilst with deathless minds afar,
He scrutinises all souls, from earth's sea--glittering star
Launched hourly; fore--ordained to segregate
All spirits whose lot is lawed by their interior state,
Each to its self--judged circle of joy or pain;
For just proportion e'er through heaven as earth must reign;
And correlate spheres agree; with patient zeal
Proving to each whence flowed life's sequent woe or weal,
He with poetic justice--which is God's--
Deals to the pure, palms, peace; deals to the unrighteous rods.
Quicklier than pulsings of heaven's fiery light,
Each wave of Luniel's wing new systems brought in sight.
`Here realized,' said she, `time's dreams behold,
And that celestial life these happier orbs unfold,
The denizens of these worlds, Being's proper ends,
As pure intelligences seek, God's and nature's friends.
Prompt here, now there, in shrewd and resolute band
The all to explore, depth, height, the all parent Love hath planned,
And so, in orbs diverse, his tracks pursue,
Old as prenatural night, as dayspring ever new,--
Ofttimes, the humble seer, who nature's laws
Loves and reveres, and aims to ally with goodness' cause,
Shows natural rights in virtues all converge,
Conservant of true force; and so, in deity merge,
Whence first they rayed:--oft, hopeful, here, contrives
Subsidiary designs, whence nature, pleased derives
New modes of self--enhancement; oft combines
With God's great plans all good, faith, ancillary divines;
Thence issuant glories in truth's flight sublime
And modes exhaustless joys to avail of hallowing time;
The evolvement watching of each special race,
Exaggerative of good. The inferior to displace
By better, nature progressive fails not;
But with the coming kind casts aye her fateful lot;
Secreting instinct first as base of mind;
Affection, passion, next, as wheels in motion wind;
Till, with demonstrant reason summed, the soul,
Fit to conceive God's being, symmetric stands, and whole.'
Fast as the sun--god's healing arrows fly,
When he his golden quiver is emptying o'er the sky,
Now in a roseate shadowed sphere we stand
Where dwell those spirits of grace man's spite once basely banned.
`Behold,' my guide said, `souls that to this shore
Of bliss have passed through straits of rolling flame and gore,--
Souls loved by God and men; and some not less
By their immolant zealots now, heart--changed through conscience' stress.
For not alone are wrongs corrected, here;
But hate, pride, envy changed to feelings pure and dear;
Envy to emulation; hate, to love
Of good; and pride, to pride that all in God live, move.
Here, saints and martyrs all their memory lose
Of wrongs and deaths, each prompt ripe blessings to diffuse,
Full--handed, on faith's friends wherever tried,
And with their bright examples adorn religion's side.
These waste no time I saw in vain lament,
But league themselves to achieve God's alway wise intent;
Each acting as with deity inspired
And conscious of the end by wariest love desired.
There, he of Tarsus, 'mong apostles least,
Self--noted, but by men Christ's best and noblest priest;
Holds it not impious now that man should yearn
Evil to know from good,--good, godlike and eterne;
But all existence, aye, in one divine
Being consummed views, God, man, nature, one and trine.
Savonarola, Huss, Joan, Jerome here
For human ignorance shed the condonative tear;
O'er man's malignance mourn:--not long! with joy
Teresa, Gersen teach how spirits most rapt, employ
In wholesome change, renewed life's total round;
And with high ecstasie blend experience like profound.'
`To souls,' I said, `of such transcendent strain
Heaven seems an easy prize to win and to retain;
'Tis but to live as ye were wont below;
Add but reward to worth; say, for I trust, I know.'
Guyon there, here Hypatia, Bourignon
High confidences exchange, each vowed to God alone.
Here Calvin and Servetus, side by side,
God one, the same, confess; and in spirit clarified
This, by repentance' fires, and that, by grace
Exalted to forgive, in mutual love embrace.
Here, allwhere, too, meet spirits of every strain,
Searchful of others' fates, good bent to impart or gain:
Renew, improve their love of those on earth
Held admirable, or dear, for truth's sake or just worth.
Charles, Cromwell, Louis, here the tyrant's throne
Friendly, confess pertains not to born kings alone;
Despots admit of all ranks, worst of things,
Save mobs crowned; and that crowds may sin, not less than kings.
States 'gainst one soul sin even as one 'gainst all;
To each, now godward turned, earth's crowns, how dim! how small!
Here too sit they who kings and peoples both
Rate equitably; and keep to God and man like troth.
Here, Tacitus, sage of incorruptible pen,
Worthiest, heaven's deeds divine, of all the sons of men,
To enregister, with stern but equalled stress
Of judgment, judges kings; eternal righteousness
As 'tis in God, his breast--law; here, ordains
States their amercement vast of pride subjecting pains;
Due penitence for war's brutal gust, their first
Of glories once, now felt with shame and misery cursed;
Of luxury, each convicts, and wanton wrong;
'Fore all, the exemplar sets of virtue's children, strong
In justice, simple and ample; in innocence
Unbarterable; and sweet soul--ignorance of offence.
There, Phocion, Regulus, where'er is heard
One rational voice, set up and sanctify man's word;
Word, worthy, in all spheres, of truest fame,
Self--love, nor popular wrong nor dread of death can shame;
Well--knowing death nor Hades e'er can be
Rival or foe to truth and manly integrity.
Here Aristides, Cato, Howard bless
Worlds with one stringent law, tempered by tenderness;
Law which to break in thought is sin, in act
Death; and salvation sole, to ensue and keep intact,
The law divine, of being and doing good,
Wherein we are one with God; the act he wills, we would.
`O! ye benevolent spirits,' I said, `on earth,
Who soothed with brotherly love and aidance, suffering worth;
Ye holy of all ages, of all creeds,
Truth--taught, and prompters sage of kindest, justest deeds;
Who fed the poor, the ignorant taught, the weak
Strengthened to do well, truth to gain, and, gained, to speak;
Your prisoning frames exchanged for the opening sky,
Continue still to bless, seek self in deity;
One thing I would intreat of ye, impelled
By anxious thoughts oft risen from scenes mine eye beheld,
O seek, O guard the death--born soul when first
Naked, sin--stained, it stands 'fore God and dreads the worst,
And the clear spirit, O calm! that, eased from breath,
With just one pitying smile salutes and passes death.
Such generous cares God will repay!' Replied
One spirit I knew on earth, and reverenced, to my side
Approached: `This needs not. Who, on earth, the state
Of heaven's lost heir hath toiled to amend; to show how great
The space just right, as his, aspires to span;
More venerable to prove the mind and soul of man;
Make worthier of his end, to achieve the sum
Of social right; found faith's pure simple creed to come;
For in all worlds the growth of general mind
Like treatment needs, that law by free rights stand defined;
Rights asking not, as earth's, the patriot's blood
Ever, yet everywhere that ill succumb to good;--
All who have laboured upwards, towards the light
Intelligible, divine, since man, in lowliest plight
Of glacial age or stone, first crouched the knee
To some lone crag, his rock of help, his deity,--
Till now, when soul of all idolatry shriven,
Thine infinite unity, Lord! sees symbolled best by heaven;
Revel in joy unutterable and trace
Their destiny in the calm supreme of his embrace,
Where, worshipper with worshipped once made one,
Live perfect, live divine, in heavenliest union.'
`Live ye aye thus;' said Luniel, `and because
You have not sought to divide his own from nature's laws,
But striven to spread his realm, the heaven within
Man's mind, loved good and done, shunned ill, detested sin,
God, to his sacred heights of spiritual rest,
Translates ye, well--beloved, his all comprising breast.'
Swift,--as the lord of light's resurgent ray
Shoots o'er expectant earth the warm delights of day;
Swift,--as the sun's tempestuous spires of light,
Ejaculate from his heart, which daze heaven's spatial night;
To farther orbs,--in silence speed we; speech
Being none, which ofttimes nought save surface mind can reach;--
Where many a troop of joy--eyed souls we viewed,
Glad those themselves, these more to glad the multitude
Who circled reverent round their guides, and grew
Better they more enjoyed, happier the more they knew.
The originators of every science, meet
Here its perfectors; both their marvellous ends complete.
The patriarchs of all arts, all sacred, there
Aim steeplier, more sublime discoveries make and share,
As worlds and elements, there, more grand than ours,
Fields vaster, more diverse yield, claim superior powers.
This one, with fanes of every form, to show
One spirit alone divine, made mind, as God, could know;
This, every plan of sacred cast, ornate,
Or simple, or vast, or small, true faith shall consecrate;
These, him would honour sole in unity; these,
In countless forms of life, and all life's energies.
Here, they who temples built by Nile, or pitched
Mid desert sands grey booths by badgers' hides enriched,
Hophra, Bezaleel; who, where ocean smiles
Eastwards, on Attic shores, Rhodian or Delian isles,
Their snowwhite shrines and fluted shafts combined,
As purity's sign the soul to raise and charm the mind.
To Pheidias, Zeuxis, there, new skill is given
To adorn with grace, all truth, with use, sanctioned of heaven;
The soul's most sacred dreams to actualize
In sinless shape, or scene, o'erarched by happiest skies.
There, he, the awe--inspiring scene who drew
Of God's last judgment, now, with false contrasts the true,
Exults in legislative love; in peace,
All conquering; and the reign of justice ne'er to cease;
Condemns his erring fancy's fault, nor feigns
Joy, felt to meet one skilled to sketch the Edenic plains,
Fair match for sterner scheme; and, so diffuse
O'er time's remembered scenes heaven's own more glorious hues;
Earth--scopes recalled at will, and studies made
To illustrate saintliest life, Beato, Raphaël aid
Guido or Zurbaran, Barry or Blake; their powers
Used to adorn such lays as charm the immortals' hours,
And happily leisured gods, who crowd to hear
Prophet or bard his song recite; or tome of seer
Turn, marvelling, leaf by leaf, with love imbued
Of mind's miraculous gifts, in solemn solitude.
Tubal, Timotheus, here, Arion, lead
Some virgin sphere to obey the air their lyre or reed
Hath erst inspired a world with; there, to raise
On spiritual harmonies, cities, whose walls are praise,
Of architecture divine; whose gates are prayer;
Whose denizens are all souls attuned to heaven; and where
Earth's mightiest melodists join in one sweet strain,
That peace to express man's soul is maddening yet to attain.
Cadmus, here, Faustus, there, new modes devise
Of symbolling thought unfixed; scheme how to distant skies
To impart intelligence; while Franklin binds
With tameable lightnings spheres, as serpent--charmer winds
Worms wise but unfanged round his breast,--and plans
With Watt, new forms of force for mightier worlds than man's.
Here, souls with gifts engraffed that 'neath the chill
Pressure of want, drear lack of culture, or sage will,
Bloomed not on earth, expand in this; their prime
Of nature, but deferred to heaven's more genial clime.
There, innocent souls, foes but to wrong, hate, strife,
Speak with God's special voice, sparing all breathful life.
Far as the mighty sparklings of his crown,
Through space interminable, the sun sends, ceaseless, down
To watchful worlds, in an eye's glance we passed
Commoved in spirit, and late ascending reached the last,
We reach where Enoch, Atlas walk the sky,
Translated through an ever brightening destiny,
There too the thronèd three who long through heaven
Followed the star of God, when Christ to earth was given,
The eternal love pursue; and midst all skies,
Humanity sole proclaim the spirit God deifies.
There, many a soul all creatural virtues graced
Of all earth's faiths, I saw, high in God's favour placed,
Buddhist and Brahman, Mazdyan, Moslem, Jew,
Shaman, and Christ's, of all the world's beliefs no few;
Gladdening, yet griefful that so oft man's mind
Will God's salvation deem to faith or form confined,
Church, temple, ritual, password, sect, or creed;
While all God asks from men is pure thought, righteous deed,
And love of Him, sole; truth this, one and same,
Common to earth and heaven, heaven's saints and earth's proclaim.
Crowned with original innocence, never lost,
A youthful spirit, that late, death's refluent tide hath crossed
There marked I, as, through many a tempering sphere,
Though scarcely changed, or made more spiritually clear,
More amiable,--she, with the immortal blessed,
Up to serenest heights of pure perfection pressed;
And cried, `Blessed spirit from first of sinless strain,
Time's dimming dust shook off, gladden in thy source again:
Clear, incontaminate as from God, there live,
Stern but towards self, thou wouldst all others' faults forgive,
As on earth, so in heaven; there, now in right
Of primitive purity, rise; rejoin thine Infinite!'
`Rejoice, thou, too,' said Luniel, `who hast viewed
With what all various bliss God hath these worlds endued.'
`Enough;' I answered; `all I have seen; and now,
As a bird, that travelling far, seeks still his native bough:
On Oran's palms, or mid Thessalian plains,
Towards Albion's lowliest eaves, his sight instinctive strains;
Some rustic cot, less lovely, true, than bowers
Where he with spring might spend her borrowed summer's hours;
But ah; his birth--place,--I, with all her woes,
Her griefs, faults, ask earth.' `Be it,' the angel said; `here close
The sights thou hast glimpsed of spheral life. Alway
Ponder the truths these scenes mysteriously convey;
And as each separate star by fine degrees,
Nature from taint chaotic, and blind, wild motion frees,
So, spirits dowered with virtuous sense of strife
Upwards, through all the ranks of firmamental life,
Their faculties requicken at his great will,
Who, schooling all in love, bids all his thoughts fulfil:
While these, in heaven's new orders taught and trained,
Their best reward e'er reap in duties love--constrained.
For not on stools of stateliest idleness,
Shall God the immortal soul magnificently distress;
Nor, with monotonous viollings, disarrange
Glad nature's genial course of ever freshening change;
Not he shall doom man's everduring days
To raptures dumb, or thoughts unutterable of praise;
Nor dazzle with one ecstatic blaze, the mind,
That burns in active good God's loftiest love to find;
But progress, to the blessed, shall bliss contain;
And, to the worst, give hope,--through purifying pain,
Remorse, repentance, self--regenerate will,--
Of good gained, virtue loved, vice loathed, abandoned ill.
For, being is probation. Soul create,
By its own act, works out its ever instant fate;
And evil's darkness, what, but possible light?
The field where conquering truth wages her gracious fight.'
`Life, fire--chordlike,' I said, `at once, both ways,
Truth between God and man, and man and God conveys.
And as, in class, some teacher, when he gains
Full seizure of the minds he elevates while he trains,
And hurrying to impart the final word,
Which shall to each convey ripe meaning of all heard,
Hears,--intercepted from his lips, let fall
His own conclusive proof, conceived, expressed by all;
So man, long taught of heaven through wisest strain
Speaks in one word his soul, 'tis life he would maintain,
Eternal life, which midst yon worlds on high,
Feels but due space for th' expanse of its divinity;
All ours: wherein through nature's infinite years,
Successive world--lives sloughed, the immortal reappears;
Man, finite deity, who in meet employ
God's will fulfils; and so all duty with all joy
Blends, that in every sphere the spirit may see
Clearlier, why being, once regenerate, still should be,
Enamoured of perfection.' `Do thou, then,
Remembering God is God, and men are,--what are men?'
The angel said, `all scare of death apart,
Trust to his use and grace; trust wholly and take heart.
Paul, Plato, seest not? live; and Christ the skies
Crowns; dread not thou, dear soul, to join the All--good and wise;
Whose end is, so to assimilate to his own,
All spirits, that, love--inspired, they share his boundless throne.'
Paused Luniel, and descending, hand in hand,
Our starry quest we cease, quit the ethereal land,
As when, with instant impulse, down the sky
Shoot, on November's eve, twin meteors from on high.
`And how,' I asked, `shall these things be?' Replied
In tenderest tone--earth seen that moment--th' angel--guide,
`When, in the lapse of ages, time's great year
Fulfilled, the disciplined soul, shows perfect, pure and clear,
All life shall be renewed, and man's great race
Transfigured, bide in heaven, God's spiritual embrace.
There all God's attributes supreme are shown
In essence emanative surround his central throne;
And there, though one, profoundest depths between
God's and all beings create, eternally intervene.
But whither, last, the principle divine
Shall wend, like regal heir exiled, until combine,
Through depurative tests, life's every end
Perfective; and till proved God's champion, liege and friend,
The inmost heavens it gain where, time by time,
Convoked, the hierarchies of blessèd souls sublime,
Rule and sustain--with him who made--the whole,
God will himself impart to man's affiliate soul.
Beings and scenes less blessed than these be, I
Love not. With other aid tempt thou the nether sky
Dimmed by one world, I know, where spirits accursed
By their own acts or lusts, man--fiend, or demon, erst
God's justice satiate through the burning sense
Of his pure law contemned, due penitence for offence
Needing, ere lifed again with freedom, light
Intelligible, with love and conscious sense of right,
Man heaven may face, or any spheral kind,
Blessed with belief in God and crowned with reasoning mind.
For the rational world God made his mirror first,
And his own image 'twas, till man by sin accursed,
Shattering in countless selfs the semblance fine,
Made unreflective dust of once one whole divine.
Souls who love God, who, here, his heaven within
Our hearts, by love and good towards man and hate of sin,
Extend, are they for whom his heavenly rest
On high he saves, and folds in his eternal breast.
But go; thou, never, till life's self be passed,
Wilt 'vail to trace his plan divine from first to last;
Plan, which created mind's whole thought transcends;
Source of its every power, sum endless of all ends.
Earth touched, she, poising her space--cheering wings,
Left me, that said, to muse, as erst, celestial things;
Left me, in sacred silence more endowed
With meaning, than all words of earth, though thunderloud.
Helen. Silence maybe best speaks experience.
Experience of an age may yield an hour's
Contentment; of an hour, an age's awe.
Festus. 'Tis nature's silent miracles most convince,
Most bless, most elevate the soul.
Helen. And yet
While doubtless, these experiences the passed
And present tend to reconcile with ends
Future, still much inexplicable remains
Of ordinary existence, and the fates
Suffered in soul, in person, here.
We expiate here in pains, faults of passed lives,
And all our joys are but rewards.
Festus. It may be.
We meet with mysteries everywhere in life,
That, could we solve!--as oft, from tide--stormed crag,
Some desperate rock, surge--hounded, that, at bay,
Faces his white--jawed foes, a wave--path, clear
Mid ruffling seas, scarce tremulous, we discern,
Seeming significative; which neither knows
Beginning of extension, nor fixed end;
Which marches not with cliff on high, nor reef
Below; to no cloud answers; no vague keel
Cut accidently; nor desultory gust
Scored; but aye exquisite to the wondering eye,
Searchful of all substantive cause,--so close
To the secret truth we burn once,--keeps in calm
Tenacity, its unfathomed force of form;
Until, the gaze glanced off, tired, or divert
Casually, we miss, nor ever can regrasp
The grand identity; so, too, mid the world
We trace, we think, at times, God's ways, the more
Pondered, the plainlier manifest; but through
Fatuity, or mere mutable conceit,
Faith's failure, or, what not? we lose in life's
Wide weltering waste the track, which followed, might
Have led, if not to perfectness, to peace.
Helen. Methinks I too have missed this perfect way;
Else wherefore am I troubled this to know,
Or that, when knowing is so vastlier less
Than being? And can it be, I am being here
Tested and proved, through life? Cares great, cares small,
Indifferent, trusted to me hour by hour,
And note of treatment taken? It cannot be.
And yet it may. One's faith indeed so warns,
It is. Who sins against his better light
Sins sadly. Still the sense oppresses me
Of life so cast.
Student. Nay, here are twain will vouch
Thy perfectness at least: and 'gainst all comers.
Helen. Hush! seest thou none beside thee?
Festus. Who is here?
I parted from thee but an hour since.
But an hour since parted from thee.
Festus. Why so soon?
Lucifer. So soon? I have traversed earth.
Festus. Ah! good. No more.
Let us within, friends. Soon the stars and dews
Will take our places. Pray, precede, dear Helen.
Enchant--thou canst--thy company--so that me
They miss not for an hour or twain.
Helen. But how
Festus. Forget me, too.
Helen. That word
Deserves no answer.
Helen. Be sure
When next we meet, we'll be less grave.
To tasks beneficent, Festus, thou and I
Reserved, let haste. Oh, earth is ripening fast
But hiddenly to happier ends than e'er
Saint, social seer, or politic sage hath hoped:
One brief creed, simple and of necessity true;
One moral code, in every land the same,
Which, justice realised, shall be each man's good,
And all men's joy; one law, one general rule;
The world one state, and peace perpetual.
Grant it may be.
Festus. I come. Good friend; do thou
The requisite dispositions to these ends
Prepare. I follow.
Student. I obey.
Festus. And now;--
Wherefore hast sought me here?
Lucifer. This but to say;
Summoned to farthest space for a time, I come,
Hail and farewell to bid thee.
Festus. Nay, not thus
Part we. I would with thee.
Festus. I do.
I would see heaven.
Festus. Would enter heaven.
Lucifer. Retire into thyself.
Festus. I would see God.
Lucifer. He is the Invisible.
Festus. And I?
Lucifer. Thou art
The insatiable. Arise with me.
Festus. I rise.
Comments about Festus - Xviii by Philip James Bailey
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