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Philip James Bailey (Филип Джеймс Бэйли)

Festus - 5

Soul solemnized by dear one's death, belief
In heavenly life confirmed of reason finds.
Here round her bier they meet who several rule,
After, the heart to each in turn their fate.
World--knowledge, fruit both sweet and bitter, shows
Its green and ruddy sides, mean, generous thought.
Trial of ill and folly gives best right
To warn, denounce: to the inventor now,
And now, his aid, of vanities. But little
Good comes of sermons, prophesies or warnings,
Though every sign be fore--detailed of doom,
And though from the steps of an old grey market--cross,
The Devil is holding forth to the faithless. There,
Even, and not less predictions gravest oft
Most slighted, may the spirit of truth provide
Conviction just, fit utterance. So to God
A social prayer is offered up for man
Of all strains, countries, politics, creeds.

A Country Town--Market--place. Noon. Lucifer and Festus.
Lucifer.  These be the toils and cares of mighty men;
Earth's vermin are as fit to fill her thrones
As these high heaven's bright seats.

Festus. Men's callings all
Are mean and vain; their wishes more so: oft
The man is bettered by his part or place.
How slight a chance may raise or sink a soul!

Lucifer.  What men call accident is God's own part.
He lets ye work your will--it is his own:
But that ye mean not, know not, do not, he doth.

Festus.  What is life worth without a heart to feel
The great and lovely harmonies which time
And nature change responsive, all writ out
By preconcertive hand which swells the strain
To divine fulness; feel the poetry,
The soothing rhythm of life's fore--ordered lay;
The sacredness of things, for all things are
Sacred so far,--the worst of them, as seen
By the eye of God, they in the aspect bide
Of holiness; nor shall outlaw sin be slain,
Though rebel banned, within the sceptre's length;
But privileged even for service. Oh! to stand
Soul--raptured, on some lofty mountain thought,
And feel the spirit expand into a view
Millennial, life--exalting, of a day
When earth shall have all leisure for high ends
Of social culture; ends a liberal law
And common peace of nations, blent with charge
Divine, shall win for man, were joy indeed:
Nor greatly less, to know what might be now,
Worked will for good with power, for one brief hour.
But look at these, these individual souls:
How sadly men show out of joint with man!
There are millions never think a noble thought:
But with brute hate of brightness bay a mind
Which drives the darkness out of them, like hounds.
Throw but a false glare round them, and in shoals
They rush upon perdition: that's the race.
What charm is in this world--scene to such minds
Blinded by dust? What can they do in heaven,
A state of spiritual means and ends?
Thus must I doubt--perpetually doubt.

Lucifer.  Who never doubted never half believed.
Where doubt there truth is--'tis her shadow. I
Declare unto thee that the passed is not.
I have looked over all life, yet never seen
The age that had been. Why then fear or dream
About the future? Nothing but what is, is;
Else God were not the Maker that he seems,
As constant in creating as in being.
Embrace the present. Let the future pass.
Plague not thyself about a future. That
Only which comes direct from God, his spirit,
Is deathless. Nature gravitates without
Effort; and so all mortal natures fall
Deathwards. All aspiration is a toil;
But inspiration cometh from above,
And is no labour. The earth's inborn strength
Could never lift her up to yon stars, whence
She fell; nor human soul, by native worth,
Claim heaven as birthright, more than man may call
Cloudland his home. The soul's inheritance,
Its birth--place, and its death--place, is of earth;
Until God maketh earth and soul anew;
The one like heaven, the other like himself.
So shall the new creation come at once;
Sin, the dead branch upon the tree of life,
Shall be cut off for ever; and all souls
Concluded in God's boundless amnesty.

Festus.  Thou windest and unwindest faith at will,
What am I to believe?

Lucifer. Thou mayest believe
But that thou art forced to.

Festus. Then I feel, perforce,
That instinct of immortal life in me,
Which prompts me to provide for it.

Lucifer. Perhaps.

Festus.  Man hath a knowledge of a time to come--
His most important knowledge: the weight lies
Nearest the short end: and the world depends
Upon what is to be. I would deny
The present, if the future. Oh! there is
A life to come, or all's a dream.

Lucifer. And all
May be a dream. Thou seest in thine, men, deeds,
Clear, moving, full of speech and order; then
Why may not all this world be but a dream
Of God's? Fear not! Some morning God may waken.

Festus.  I would it were. This life's a mystery.
The value of a thought cannot be told;
But it is clearly worth a thousand lives
Like many men's. And yet men love to live
As if mere life were worth their living for.
What but perdition will it be to most?
Life's more than breath and the quick round of blood;
It is a great spirit and a busy heart.
The coward and the small in soul scarce do live.
One generous feeling--one great thought--one deed
Of good, ere night, would make life longer seem
Than if each year might number a thousand days,
Spent as is this by nations of mankind.
We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
We should count time by heart--throbs. He most lives
Who thinks most--feels the noblest--acts the best.
Life's but a means unto an end--that end
Beginning, mean and end to all things--God.
The dead have all the glory of the world.
Why will we live and not be glorious?
We never can be deathless till we die.
It is the dead win battles. And the breath
Of those who through the world drive like a wedge,
Tearing earth's empires up, nears Death so close
It dims his wellworn scythe. But no! the brave
Die never. Being deathless, they but change
Their country's arms for more--their country's heart.
Give then the dead their due: it is they who saved us.
The rapid and the deep--the fall, the gulph,
Have likenesses in feeling and in life.
And life, so varied, hath more loveliness
In one day than a creeping century
Of sameness. But youth loves and lives on change,
Till the soul sighs for sameness; which at last
Becomes variety, and takes its place.
Yet some will last to die out, thought by thought,
And power by power, and limb of mind by limb,
Like lamps upon a gay device of glass,
Till all of soul that's left be dry and dark;
Till even the burden of some ninety years
Hath crashed into them like a rock; shattered
Their system as if ninety suns had rushed
To ruin earth--or heaven had rained its stars;
Till they become, like scrolls, unreadable,
Through dust and mould. Can they be cleaned and read?
Do human spirits wax and wane like moons?

Lucifer.  The eye dims and the heart gets old and slow;
The lithe limbs stiffen, and the sun--hued locks
Thin themselves off, or whitely wither; still,
Ages not spirit, even in one point,
Immeasurably small; from orb to orb,
Rising in radiance ever like the sun
Shining upon the thousand lands of earth.
Look at the medley, motley throng we meet!
Some smiling, frowning some; their cares and joys
Alike not worth a thought; some sauntering slowly,
As if destruction never could overtake them;
Some hurrying on, as fearing judgment swift
Should trip the heels of death, and seize them living.

Festus.  Grief hallows hearts even while it ages heads;
And much hot grief, in youth, forces up life
With power which too soon ripens and which drops.
A funeral passes.
Ah! what is this? A mystery, sure resolved.
I felt as fascinated towards this spot.
Meseemed I saw a beckoning, as of bright
Invisible hands I could not choose but follow.
'Twas for this, doubtless.

Lucifer. Strange coincidence!
Behold those three fair maiden mourners. Well,
It is something, in default of other means,
To leave fair friends behind one. Speak to them.

Festus.  That were I nowise loth to do. But stay;
My heart is not an anvil; and the blow
Which grief hath struck me, needs not to be paired;
Or they might breed for ever.

Lucifer. Speak to them.

Festus.  Why, yes, I'll speak to them; I know them all,
As they know her they follow. Yet, methinks,
All knowing, to ask curiously seems ill.

Lucifer.  To learn what others know seems only well.

Festus.  Whose funeral is this ye follow, friends?

Lucifer.  Would ye have grief, let me come. I am woe.

Mourner.  We want no grief, Festus! she died of grief.

Festus. Said'st thou she died? Oh, then, I knew her.

Mourner. True.

Festus.  Set down the body; I would look yet on her.
Not lovelier now than ever, only not.
And garlanded, as for bridals.

Mourner. True. What then?
Say not thou knewst not, thou, this crownèd maid,
Willed as death's bride, not thine, to be thus interred.

Festus.  Her hopes knew I too well. Oh, no! I nought
Deny. I am doomed too many to offend,
To prove the end of. Not the less, let be.
When died she?

Mourner. But the o'er--last night when the sun
His purple sea--couch pressed, and high in air
Heaven glorified itself with every hue
The world holds loveliest. 'Twas to those who watched
That deathbed as if nature yearned to express
By all tints gorgeousest her inmost joy
To know this soul's reunion with its God.

Festus.  I mind the hour, the moment. 'Twas the breath
As of a thousand lilies, witness pure
Of her spirit's sanctity, lingering by this bier,
Still, compassed me unconscious of the event,
And marvelling of the miracle. Let me look!

Mourner. In sooth, a piteous sight.

Festus. A heavenly sight!
Now, Son of God! what dost thou now in heaven,
While one so beautiful lies earthening here?
I will give up the future for the passed;
The wingèd spirit and the starry home,
If thou wilt let her live and make me love.

Clara.  I feel as though her spirit hovered near;
Holy and pure it wafts me with its wings.

Elissa.  Their shadows strike across me. Let us move.
Friends wait us sorrowing where, hard by, her sires
Sleep in the marbled minster.

Festus. Heed them not;
Our duty, this day, waits on destiny. Stay.

Lucifer.  Canst thou not spare to these her sister friends,
Whose eyes with grief's salt baptism run o'er;
And who, like mourning starlets, weep the end
Of their once brightest, one consoling word?

Festus.  Their solace mine; her, sometime, to rejoin.
Were ye not with her when she died?

Helen. We were.
She left among us a bequest which I
Dare not accept nor now name; but it drew
From our torn hearts a promise as the steel
Magnetic from a wound the painful speck.

Festus.  For me to know might haply both console.

Clara.  But never wilt thou know it from my lips.

Helen.  She bade all cherish thee for her dear sake;
And gave thee her forgiveness.

Festus. Shade divine!
Spirit immortal and immaculate, hear!

Elissa.  What! Art mad? Wouldst have a spirit here;
And in the day's broad eye?

Lucifer. Why not?

Elissa. Grant, heaven!
I only swoon.

Festus. Swoon not, but brace thy heart
To its true tension. It may have yet to bear
Unheard--of woes. Speak, spirit, that our poor ears
May grow rich treasuries of thy golden words.

Elissa.  Nay, wish not back from her paternal heavens
The pure ghost, self--congratulative ere now,
Of its translated life.

Festus. She comes no more.

Clara.  Nor would she, save by night, when her fair feet,
Threading the shiny mazes of the stars,
May bring us helpful hope, by grace divine;
Or us perchance premonish.

Lucifer. Voice is none.

Festus.  No, all is still; and still right well I know,
If aught behoves me learn by token, dream,
Vision, or sign, or visitation, I
Shall learn it; and like truly do ye know,
Ye heedful, faithful, faultless few, her friends,
Where'er her spirit dwells, she dwells in full
Regality of nature; crowned with power,
With purity clothed and girt with grace. Her air
Was an immortal's always. I have seen
Stars look upon't kinwise, with sympathy.

Mourner.  She was a love--gift heaven once gave to earth,
And took again, because unworthy of her.

Festus.  And will ye gaze again upon her face?
Draw nigh. But knee the majesty of death.

Helen.  Speak, thou beloved sister of my heart!
Death shall be loyal to thee; nought shall change
Thy form's marmoreal loveliness. All truth
Thou holdest now, all knowledge. Speak to us!

Clara.  No: she is silent in the hand of death;
Soothed by his touch perchance, like a young bird,
Dreadless; incredulous of cruel fate.

Festus. Soul of my spirit!

Clara. Oh, ne'er could she have dreamed
This wrong from thee!

Festus. This wrong! Hear, Clara, thou
Whose name stands first in memory, even ere hers,
Nor know I when I loved not thee.

Clara. Be dumb.
Never until we have mourned for mourning ceased,
Shall hope herself have hope to exculpate one,
Would dim thy name, sweet spirit, with even a plaint.
Thou didst but dip thy wing in life's dark stream,
And then away. We, wondering, watched thee whilst.

Elissa.  How hath the white rose conquered on this cheek!
This fair and final field of death and life.
Life is no match for death, since thou art fled;
The balance of existence is no more.
Let us begone, where thou art gone, to heaven.

Mourner.  And yet we weep thee, weep thee, all of us.

Festus.  How could I be so cruel? Who but I?
O faithful as the mooncrowned night to heaven,
In pure recurrent beauty, is then this
Saddest of trysts our last; or do we yet
Meet in the far--off future?

Lucifer. Much depends.

Elissa. And is there no remorse?

Clara. No blame?

Helen. No wrong?

Festus.  Why are ye troubled thus, and your clear souls
Made for a moment turbid? Can ye grieve
As I grieve; ye, as I be wretched? No!
But though it claim no pre--established course,
Yet give a torrent place; 'twere wise; 'twere wise.

Mourner.  The moment after thou desertedst her,
A cloud came over the prospect of her life;
And I foresaw how evening would set in,
Early, and dark and deadly. She was true.

Festus.  Did I not love thee, too? pure perfect thing;
This is a soul I see and not a body.
Go, beauty, rest for aye; go, starry eyes,
And lips like rosebuds peeping out of snow;
Go, breast love--filled as a boat's sail with wind,
Leaping from wave to wave as leaps a child
Thoughtless, o'er grassy graves; go, locks which have
The golden embrownment of a lion's eye.
Yet one more look; farewell, thou well and fair!
All who but loved thee shall be deathless; nought
Named, if with thee, can perish. Thou and death
Have made each other purer, lovelier seem,
Like snow and moonlight. Never more for thee
Let eyes be swollen, like streams with latter rains.
To die were rapture, having lived with thee.
Thy soul hath passed out of a bodily heaven
Into a spiritual. Rest! pure after love;
In love pure; pure before. The dead are holy.
I would I were among them.

Elissa. Let us hence.

Festus.  Nay, not so soon shalt thou unbless mine eyes.
I turn, and turn, to tread the round of fate,
As worshippers of old their templed tombs;
And lo! thy tomb, thy temple is my heart.

Clara.  She is no more in man's hand; but in God's.

Festus.  So young, so lovely, so adored. Thy years
The moon's sweet cycle scarce had run; and now,
Oh! recommence in heaven thy dateless course.
Our souls were so, so delicately attuned,
A scarce discernible discord, a lapsed word,
An inconsiderate eyeglance, thrilled through both,
With well--nigh fatal jar. But here, this hour,
What is there I'd not give, again to know
That bosom's lightest swell, which once, 'gainst mine,
For pardon craved, or granted, a mere thought,
Beat like the billows of the sea of life?
And now corruption, come; sit, sate thyself.
This is the choicest revel thou hast been at.
Thou art my happier, only rival, thou
Who takest love from the living; life from beauty;
Beauty from death; whole robber of the world.

Helen.  Oh, heaven is happier, now that thou art there,
Sweetest of human spirits; and for us
Enough, the blessing to have known thee here.

Festus.  It is so. All life's blessings, hope and peace;
And innocence of youth's prime, seem sweeping past,
As with the footfall of a cataract,
Deathwards precipitately; and, fled with these,
Thou, happy spirit, serene, seraphic! Yes!
Thou, too, art gone. Upon thy brow, no more
Fair seer of lucent eye shall see ray forth
The inborn crownlet: crown of light, or fire,
All wear, all work, unweeting, for themselves;
Dewbright was thine. Closed are thine eyes for aye.
Those deep dark jets of light; that pearly hand,
Gifted with whitest witchery to convoke
Pure beings that oft beset our sunshot path,
Gleams with the seal of power no more. No more
The star--throned rulers of the spheral heavens
Obey thy bidding here. On other shores
The kings of thought salute thee. Thou hast passed
The river of judgment; and the saintly land
Of the elect immortals guests thee now.
Wait thou awhile to welcome me: not long;
For thought's substantive shadows, things create
Of our own mind vivific, me forewarn,
Like eastern slaves, lip--fingered, menacing mutes;
Death is at hand. O injudicious judge!
Justice unjust; what though the world must die,
Was this her time? What more can time unrol?
Can life replevy upon the house of death?
Can truth unteach the promise of the passed?
Can earth remass the wealth of worship thou
Outpouredst at my feet, more than numb age,
That feast of lips, that banquet of the breast,
Which Paradisal youth yields yet to all?
No! thou art gone. Oh, never till the hour
When the great Gatherer, with his spirit hand,
Hath culled the ripe worlds from the tree of life,
Shall, sunlike, set in its illumined grave
Another head, sacred as thine. Farewell,
Thou fair perfection of the universe;
I turn to thee, the prayer--point of my soul;
And swear, by all the hopes I have of death,
I had more prized all wretchedness with thee,
Than joy with others. Fate, fulfil thy scheme.
Demand thy fee. There's nought worth reckoning left.
The fair configurations of my life
Are passed away. Lingers alone in air
One pale malignant star; that star, mine own.

Lucifer.  Oh, we'll think better sometime of our stars;
Myself, by fits, feel faintly saturnine;
Given to low spirits, and so forth. But have care,
Or thou wilt drain these lovely eyes of tears
That may be wanted yet.

Festus. This in thine ear.
Blood is more easily shed than tears, by men;
And I would spare some heart--drops from their fount,
When every drop were worth a year of life,
Rather than now these glittering traitors fell.
But not less be thou silent. Let these weep.
It is well that I have mingled tears with theirs.
Fair Eden's rivers had one only head,
And flowed into one outfall: our great dole,
Like vent. And now though I wander round the world,
Each step but brings me nearer to the grave;
Her grave.

Elissa. Perchance, there, we may meet again?

Lucifer.  Lovely lamenters! We again will meet.

Festus. Peace, soulless spirit.

Lucifer. Peace is all I ask.

Festus.  Let us rejoice for her; for ourselves mourn;
Wholly and separately. Art thou, say, blithe?
Remember whom we grieve for now; art sad?
Reflect that she is bliss. Mere happiness
Is of ourselves; but blessedness of God.
And so, rejoice, fair mourners, and farewell.

Lucifer.  O ignorance sublime! O innocence!
What would I risk to know ye, and believe!

Festus.  Behold them slowly westering on their way,
Like those bright lights that head heaven's starry bier.

Lucifer. Each hath a special grace.

Festus. But as I live--

Lucifer.  Come, that is cheering; not a minute since
At the last gasp I deemed thee.

Festus. I marked not
Their several charms, opponent or in trine.

Lucifer. Thou shalt love all at will.

Festus. I hear thee not.
Suffer my silence. One thing seems. Henceforth
I have a love on earth and one in heaven.

Lucifer.  That I misdoubt not. This is somewhat dull.
There is a mean with him as all: and now,
Ere my free promises too soon condense
Into more gross utilities, it were well
I from this sacred and supernal love
His heart should alienate; and, time by time,
With some calm passion, or--I have them yet
Before me in mine eye, with rival fair
Not frivolous, oh no, spiritual, scarce less
Serious this next than her late canonized;
More provident of the future, may be, vowed
To active piety more,--assort him, till
A weary of all these animate ice--maidens
Dolorous, he seek life's luxuries, in despair,
And youth's gay converse; shallow joys, but still
Quite deep enough to drown. I'll think on't.

Festus. Hope! 
Where dwells she?

Lucifer. Hope? In dreamland. Sometime soon
Or never, at the furthest, we'll hie thither.
I have seen her house by moonlight, travelling once
Nigh Ouranus sixth satellite. Much I fear
It is mostly moonshine there, by tremulous wastes
Of darkness intervalled. Sweet spot, Hope's home!
Grounds? What it stands on, true; but everywhere
Vast outlooks. All well fenced about with towers
Planned, to reach heaven, but failing that, doubt not
They touch the feet of clouds. Her closeless gates
No janitor haunts, suspicious, souring air
With his writhed countenance; fact, to me, who own
A key that opens walls, let alone doors,
Less than to some momentous. Strange to note,
The house will show all sizes; now a dwarf
Might fork it; now 'twould guest a giant.

Festus. Good.
Perhaps we both may lodge there some fine day.

Lucifer.  But in the meanwhile more substantial ends
Will better suit us. Life hath claims on thee.

Festus.  Living is but a habit; and I mean
To break myself of it soon.

Lucifer.  Too soon thou canst not,
When that is preappointed stands achieved.
Meantime I half think with thee; and much grieve
Men heed not of the day, how nigh none knows,
Which brings the consummation of the world.
But in mine ear the old machine already
Begins to grate. They would not credit warning,
Or I would up and cry, repent! I will.
Here's a fair gathering and I feel moved.
Mortals, repent! the world is nigh to its end;
On its last legs, and desperately sick.
See ye not how it reels round all day long?

Boys.  Oh! here's a ranter. Come, here's fun. Amen.
I know the church service by heart.

Bystander. Be off!
You'll serve the church by keeping out of it.

Lucifer.  I am a preacher come to tell ye truth.
I tell ye too there is no time to be lost;
So fold your souls up neatly, while ye may;
Direct to God in heaven; or some one else
May seize them, seal them, send them--you know where.
The world must end. I weep to think of it.
But you, you laugh! I knew ye would. I know
Men never will be wise till they are fools
For ever. Laugh away! The time will come,
When tears of fire are trickling from your eyes,
You will blame yourselves for having laughed at me.
I warn ye, men: prepare; repent; be saved.
I warn ye, not because I love, but know ye.
God will dissolve the world, as she of old
Her pearl, within his cup, and swallow ye
In wrath: although to taste ye would be poison,
And death and suicide to aught but God.
Again I warn ye. Save himself who can!
Do ye not oft begin to seek salvation?
You? you? and fail, as oft, to find? Sink? Cease?
And shall I tell ye, brethren, why ye fail
Once and for ever? why, there is no passed;
And the future is the fiction of a fiction;
The present moment is eternity.
It is that ye have sucked corruption from the world
Like milk from your own mothers; it is in
Your soul--blood and your soul--bones. Earth does not
Wean one out of a thousand sons to heaven.
Beginnings are alike: it is ends which differ.
One drop falls, lasts, and dries up, but a drop;
Another begins a river: and one thought
Settles a life, an immortality:
And that one thought ye will not take to good.
Now will I tell ye just one other truth:
Ye hate the truth as snails salt, it dissolves ye,
Body and soul; but I don't mind. So, now:
Up to this moment ye are all, each, what?
Suppose I leave you to infer. 'Twill be
The same, we know, the next day--and the next:
Till some fine morning, ye will wake in fire.
Observe, I mince not, I, the truth for ye.
Belike you think your lives will dribble out,
As brooks in summer dry up. Let us see!
Try: dike them up: they stagnate; thicken; scum.
That would make life worse than death. Well, let go!
Where are ye then? for life, like water, will
Find its last level; what level? The grave.
It is but a fall of five feet after all;
That cannot hurt ye; it is but just enough
To work the wheel of life; so work away!
Ye may think that I do not know the terms
And treasures whereupon ye live so high.
But I know more than most men, modestly
Speaking. I know I am lost, you too I fear.
Could God, save by destroying me, me save,
I ofttimes ask myself, self--tormenting. So,
With none advantage over you, I have thought
Rather ye might, perhaps, the freelier bear
One in your own state to advise for ye.
Now don't you envy me, good folks, I pray;
Envy's a coal comes hissing hot from hell.
'Twill be such coals will burn ye, by the way.
Your other preachers first think they are safe.
Then run they to and fro to serve ye, slave,
Slay themselves well nigh; sweating like a bone
Unburied, alway. I, too, for your sakes.
But I, alas! boast no such perfectness.
Nay, I say broadly I am the worst among ye;
And God knows I have no need to wrong myself,
Nor you. I boast not of it, but as truth;
It is little to be proud of, credit me.
What is salvation? What is safety? Think!
Who wants to know? Does any?

The Crowd. All of us.

Lucifer.  Then I will not tell ye. You shall wait until
Some angel come and stir your stagnant souls:
Then plunge into yourselves and rise redeemed.
Oh! but say you, we are redeemed, long since,
Our faults condoned, debts cancelled, all. God ran
One winter eve, the yuletide holidays,--
His pen right down the black accompt, choke full
Of columned figures, row on row, and smiled;
Passed your poor pot--hooks palliative of play;
Your sham excuses of mistaken feasts;
Sick headaches, paltry truantries, what not?
And ticked off all, bills, extras, dues, as paid.
So ye are new men, you; most, at least. Look to it!
But don't take rights for granted; nor all said
Of gospel, gospel: nor because one dies,--
How miserably defunct you would fain not know,--
But a would--be friend, and leaves you all he had,
His charity, think you e'er forsooth must live
In lack--nought ease, and unconditioned joy.
There's not much logic, I can tell ye, there.

A Voice.  You look quite fresh from college. Who's your coach?
Do spend your long vacation here.

Lucifer. Our term's
Not yet quite over. Make the most of chance.
Think, lucky for your sakes I'm here. But here
Nought tempts my stay. You are unjust. Could I see
One hoised for my offence, nor cry, Let go!
I did it: punish me? Indeed not. Come,
Play fair, now: don't be always crying `Kings!'
And think to sneak, unnoted, to the goal.
Some odd day, mark me, you'll be caught; and then--
Why then, so much precisely as you have shirked
Your proper share, you'll earn worse buffettings.
Quit your own forfeits. Sin like demi--gods,
If sin ye will; but pay your scot, like men.
Don't run up a huge score, and leave a friend,
A mere acquaintance, rather, of whose name
You have taken advantage, to pay for you. Tush!
You know heaven's terms, and right and wrong, both know
As well as up and down, or north and south.
Heed, then, which way you wend. If that way, sure
You will one day knock the pole. Don't say, you thought
It only led to Babylon; led to Rome;
Geneva, Jericho, or where not? please don't.
I hate such wriggling fibs. Due north, the pole!
Sin leads, as straight,--make no mistake,--to hell.
Well, come; you never held that you were saints;
Not even angels: but, the race looks up.
You improve, you'll swear: advance; march; grow less bad;
Less fatuous, less ferocious, every day;
Grind out old flaws in ye; don't, you say, as once,
Roast all who differ from you. Good, but listen.
As when some shore--bred urchin, spit o' the brine,
Hatched just above high--watermark, first quits
His boulder--cumber'd beach, to earn hard bread
From harder hands; and eyes, as slips the coast
From sight, cliff, jetty, his dad's nets, and cot;
And, last thing marked, the out--beetling village crag,
Capped,--no, not quite,--with granate toad, or eft
Hugeous, that creeps, creeps, but ne'er crowns the top;
Or stone--struck hag, still irritable, her spell
Tempestuous muttering o'er rock--chaldron; years,
Long years lapsed, he returns: within himself
All changed; enriched, mature; and nearing, views,--
Through something bitterer than the blinding spray,
Or is't a sudden spume--drift blurrs his sight?--
The unbettered spot:--a few deciduous huts
Replaced by sundry of like leaf; the same,
Surely the same, wild tangled knot of brats,
Sun--coiffed, sand--shod; one missing, who? the same
Witch--pot, that never boils, nor will, till earth
Spouts up again her molten slag; the same
Unspeakable monster scaling aye the height
It fails, footstalled, to reach. So you; you are,
Just what you were, just where, as once when I
First saw ye forty years since; and next week,
Or fifty centuries hence, 'twould be all one.
You are quite the same, in bulk; a trivial law,
A surface custom varied, here, as there
A moss--patch more, or less; but oh! the back
O' the creature; oh, the fissurous grin; the crawl;
Identic; unmistakeable. Zounds! I know ye.
The Crowd. And if ye know, what then?

Lucifer. Why, I'll not say.
Come, I'll unroll your hearts and read them to ye.
'Tis a long strip, Death's ritual. Hear not less.
To say ye live is but to say ye have souls,
That ye have paid for them, and mean to play them,
Till some brave pleasure wins the golden stake,
And rakes it up to death as to a bank.
Ye live and die on what your souls will fetch;
And all are of different prices: therefore hell
Cannot well bargain for mankind in gross;
But each soul must be purchased, one by one.
This it is makes men rate themselves so high:
While truly ye are worth little: but to God
Ye are worth more than to yourselves. By sin
Ye wreak your spite against God; that ye know;
And knowing, will it. But I pray, I beg,
Act with some smack of justice to your Maker,
If not unto yourselves. Do! It is enough
To make the very Devil chide mankind;
Such baseness, such unthankfulness! Why he
Thanks God he is no worse. You don't do that.
I say be just to God. Leave off these airs:
Know your place; speak to God; and say, for once,
Go first, Lord; take your finger off your eye.
It blocks the universe and God from sight.
Think ye your souls are worth nothing to God?
Are they so small? What can be great with God?
The sun and moon he wears on either arm,
Seals of his sovereignty. What now, huge men!
What will ye weigh against the Lord? Yourselves?
Bring out your balance: get in, man by man:
Add earth, heaven, hell, the universe; that's all.
God puts his finger in the other scale,
And up we bounce, a bubble. Nought is great
Nor small, with God--for none but he can make
The atom imperceptible, and none
But he can make a world: he counts the orbs,
He counts the atoms of the universe,
And makes both equal; both are infinite.
Giving God honour, never underrate
Yourselves: after him ye are everything.
But mind! God's more than everything; he is God.
And what of me? No, us? no! I mean the Devil?
Why see ye not he goes before both you
And God? Men say, as proud as Lucifer;
Pray who would not be proud with such a train?
Hath he not all the honour of the earth?
Why Mammon sits before a million hearths,
Where God is bolted out from every house.
He'll not forget that. Some day there'll be haply,
A pretty general eviction. Then,
Mind me, he'll break your bars and burst your doors,
Which slammed against him once, and turn ye out,
Roofless and shivering, 'neath the doom--storm; heaven
Shall crack above ye like a bell in fire,
And bury all beneath its shining shards.
He calls, ye hear not. Lo! he comes--ye see not.
No; ye are deaf as a dead adder's ear:
No; ye are blind as never bat was blind,
With a burning, bloodshot blindness of the heart;
A swimming, swollen, senselessness of soul.
Listen. Whom love ye most? Why, him to whom
Ye in your turn are dearest. Need I name?
Oh no! But all are devils to themselves;
And every man his own great foe. Hell gets
Only the gleanings; earth hath the full wain;
And hell is merry at its harvest home.
But ye are generous to sin, and grudge
The gleaners nothing; ask them, push them in.
Let not an ear, a grain of sin be lost;
Gather it, grind it up; it is our bread:
We should be ashamed to waste the gifts of God.
Why is the world so mad? Why runs it thus
Raving and howling round the universe?
Because the Devil bit it from the birth!
The fault is all with him. Fear nothing, friends;
It is fear which beds the far to--come with fire,
As the sun does the west: but the sun sets;
Well: still ye tremble--tremble, first at light,
Then darkness. Tremble! ye dare not believe.
No, cowards! sooner than believe ye would die;
Die with the black lie flapping on your lips,
Like the soot--flake upon a burning bar.
Be merry, happy if ye can: think never
Of him who slays your souls, nor him who saves.
There is time enough for that when ye are a--dying.
Keep your old ways; it matters not this once.
Be brave; ye are not men whom meat and wine
Serve to remind but of the sacrament;
To whom sweet shapes and tantalizing smiles
Bring up the Devil and the ten commandments;
And so on. But I said the world must end.
I see some old men 'mong ye, and they know,
Discomfortably enough, the heart in age,
Lower and lower, like the wintering sun,
Sets daily, and is troubled more to rise.
Let them be rather gay to miss earth's end.
I am sorry; it is such a pleasant world;
With all its faults it is perfect--to a fault;
And you, of course, end with it. Now how long
Will the world take to die? I know ye place
Great faith upon death--bed repentances;
The suddener the better. I know ye often
Begin to think of praying and repenting;
But second thoughts come and ye are worse than ever;
As over new white snow a filthy thaw.
Ye do amaze me verily. How long
Will ye take heart on your own wickedness,
And God's forbearance? Have ye cast it up?
Come, now; the year, and month, day, hour, and minute,
Sin's golden cycle? Know ye, pray, how long
Exactly, heaven will grant ye; how long God,--
Who when he had slain the world and wasted it,
Hung up his bow in heaven, as in his hall
A warrior after battle--will yet bear
Your contumely and scorn of his best gifts,--
Man's mockery of man? But never mind!
Some of us are magnificently good,
And hold the head up high, like a giraffe
You, in particular, and you; and you.
Good men are here and there, I know; but then
You must excuse me if I mention this,
My duty is to tell it you; the world,
Like a black block of marble, jagged with white,
As with a vein of lightning petrified,
Looks blacker than without such; looks, in truth,
So gross the heathen, gross the Christian too,
Like the original darkness of void space,
Hardened. Instead of justice, love, and grace,
Each worth to man the mission of a God,
Injustice, hate, uncharitableness,
Triequal reign round earth, hell's trinity, sure.
Ye think ye never can be bad enough;
Nay, as ye sink in sin ye rise in hope.
And let the worst come to the worst, you say,
There always will be time to turn ourselves,
And cry for half an hour or so to God:
Salvation, sure, is not so very hard;
It need not take one long; and half an hour
Is quite as much as we can spare for it.
We have no time for pleasures. Business! business!
No! ye shall perish suddenly and unsaved.
The world shall stand still with a rending jar,
As though it struck at sea; or, as when once,
An arm Titanian, say not whose, but jogged
By earthquakes, wryed the pole, and o'er the dry
Poured competitive mains. The unsleepful sea,
Mooning and bellowing now round caverned coasts,
Now, drawing hard through thirty thousand teeth,
Upon the shingly shore, his pauseful breath,
Like some monogamous monster which hath lost,
Poor fool! his mate; and every rock--hole searched
By torch of foam--light, dogs her steps with sad,
Superfluous faithfulness, shall rest at last,
Nor wist which way to turn him; ebb nor flow
No more to choose. All elements as though smote
With reasonablest disloyalty to man's
Usurpful claim, their constrained suit shall cease,
And natural service: men their mightiest wont,
Their meanest use and craft. The halls where parle
The heads of nations shall be dumb with death.
The priest shall dipping, die: can man save man?
Is water God? The counsellor, wise fool,
Drop down amid his quirks and sacred lies,
The judge, while dooming unto death some wretch,
Shall meet at once his own death, doom and judge.
The doctor, watch in hand and patient's pulse,
Shall feel his own heart cease its beats, and fall.
Professors shall spin out, and students strain
Their brains no more. Art, science, toil, shall cease,
Commerce. The ship shall her own plummet seek,
And sound the sea herself and depths of death.
At the first turn Death shall cut off the thief,
And dash the gold--bag in his yellow brain.
The gambler, reckoning gains, shall drop a piece:
Stoop down and there see death;--look up, there God.
The wanton, temporizing with decay,
And qualifying every line which vice
Writes bluntly on the brow, inviting scorn,
Shall pale through plastered red: and the loose low sot
See clear, for once, through his misty, o'erbrimmed eye.
The just, if there be any, die in prayer.
Death shall be everywhere among your marts;
And giving bills which no man may decline--
Drafts upon hell one moment after date.
Then shall your outcries tremble amid the stars:
Terrors shall be about ye like a wind;
And fears fall down upon ye like four walls.

Festus. Yon man looks frightened.

Lucifer. Then it is time to stop.
I hope I have done no good. He will soon forget
His soul. Flesh soaks it up as sponge does water.

The Crowd. He's a mad ranter: down with him.

Festus. Let him be!

Lucifer.  Stand by me, Festus! and I will by thee.
Said I not what they were? When am I wrong?
Why, heaven and earth! this is the second time
I have run for my life.

Festus. Nay, nay, come back! I'll see
These rustics harm thee not: they would chair thee round
The market--place, knew they but whom thou art.
I'll make it mine to soothe them for a space.
Peace there, my friends! one minute; let us pray.
Grant us, O God! that in thy holy love
The universal people of the world
May grow more great and happy every day;
Mightier, wiser, humbler, too, towards thee.
And that all ranks, all classes, callings, states
Of life, so far as such seem right to thee,
May mingle into one, like sister trees,
And so in one stem flourish: that all laws
And powers of government be based and used
In good, and for the people's sake; that each
May feel himself of consequence to all,
And act as though all saw him; that the whole,
The mass of every nation, may so do
As is most worthy of the next to God;
For a whole people's souls, each one worth more
Than a mere world of matter, make, combined,
A something godlike, something like to thee.
We pray thee for the welfare of all men.
Let monarchs who love truth and freedom feel
The happiness of safety, and respect
From those they rule, and guardianship from thee.
Let them remember they are set on thrones
As representatives, not as substitutes,
Of nations, to implead with God and man.
Let tyrants who hate truth, or fear the free,
Know that to rule in slavery and error,
For the mere ends of personal pomp and power,
Is such a sin as doth deserve a hell
To itself sole. Let both remember, Lord!
They are but things like--natured with all nations;
That mountains issue out of plains, and not
Plains out of mountains, and so likewise kings
Are of the people, not the people of kings.
And let all feel, the rulers and the ruled,
All classes and all countries, that the world
Is thy great halidom; that thou art king,
Lord, only owner and possessor. Grant
That nations may now see, it is not kings,
Nor priests, they need fear so much as themselves;
That if they keep but true to themselves, and free,
Sober, enlightened, godly; mortal men
Become impassible as air; one great
And indestructible substance as the sea.
Let all on thrones and judgment--seats reflect
How dreadful thy revenge through nations is
On those who wrong them; but do thou grant, Lord,
That when wrongs are to be redressed, such may
Be done with mildness, speed, and firmness; not
With violence or hate, whereby one wrong
Translates another; both to thee abhorrent.
The bells of time are ringing changes fast.
Grant, Lord! that each fresh peal may usher in
An era of advancement, that each change
Prove an effectual, lasting, happy gain.
And we beseech thee, overrule, O God!
All civil contests to the good of all;
All party and religious differences
To honourable ends, whether secured
Or lost; and let all strife, political
Or social, spring from conscientious aims,
And have a generous, self--ennobling end,
Man's good, and thine own glory in view always.
The best may then fail and the worst succeed,
Alike with honour. We beseech thee, Lord!
For bodily strength, but more especially
For the soul's health and safety. We entreat thee
In thy great mercy to decrease our wants,
And add autumnal increase to the comforts
Which tend to keep men innocent, and load
Their hearts with thanks to thee as trees in bearing:
The blessings of friends, families, and homes,
And kindnesses of kindred. And we pray
That men may rule themselves in faith in God,
In charity to each other, and in hope
Of their own soul's salvation: that the mass,
The millions in all nations, may be trained,
From their youth upwards, in a nobler mode,
To loftier and more liberal ends. We pray
Above all things, Lord! that all men be free
From bondage, whether of the mind or body;
The bondage of religious bigotry,
And bald antiquity; servility
Of thought or speech to rank and power; be all
Free as they ought to be in mind and soul,
As well as by state--birth right; and that Mind,
Time's giant pupil, may right soon attain
Majority, and speak and act for himself.
Incline thou to our prayers, and grant, O Lord!
That all may have enough, and some safe mean
Of worldly goods and honours, by degrees,
Take place, if practicable, in the fitness
And fulness of thy time. And we beseech thee
That truth no more be gagged, nor conscience dungeoned,
Nor science be impeached of godlessness;
Nor faith be circumscribed, which as to thee,
And the soul's self affairs, is infinite;
But that all men may have due liberty
To speak an honest mind, in every land;
Encouragement to study, leave to act
As conscience orders. We entreat thee, Lord!
For thy Son's sake, for total man's, in whose
Name first spake he, prophet supreme of earth,
As man's son thine, to take away reproach
Of all kinds from thy church; and all temptation
Of pomp or power political, that none
May err in the end for which they were appointed
To any of its orders, low or high;
And no ambition, of a worldly cast,
Leaven the love of souls unto whose care
They feel propelled by thy most holy spirit.
Be every church established, Lord! in truth.
Let all who preach the word, by the word live,
In moderate estate; and in thy church,--
One, universal, and invisible,
World--wards, yet manifest unto itself,
May it seem good, dear Saviour, in thy sight,
That orders be distinguished, not by wealth,
But piety and power of teaching souls.
Equalize labour, Lord! and recompense.
Let not a hundred humble pastors starve,
In this or any land of Christendom,
While one or two, impalaced, mitred, throned
And banquetted, burlesque, if not blaspheme
The holy penury of the son of Man;
The fastings, the footwanderings, and the preachings
Of Christ and his first followers. Oh that the son
Might come again! There should be no more war,
No more want, no more sickness; with a touch,
He should cure all disease, and with a word,
All woe; and with a look to heaven, a prayer,
Provide bread for a million at a time.
But till that perfect advent, grant us, Lord!
That all good institutions, orders, claims,
Charitably proposed, or in the aid
Of thy divine foundation, may much prosper,
And more of them be raised and nobly filled;
That thy word may be taught throughout all lands,
And save souls daily to the thrones of heaven!--
Enriched, empowered, emboldened by thy Spirit,
We dare to ask for all things in thy name;
We dare to pray for all that live or die.
Man dies to man; but all to thee, God, live.
We pray thee, therefore, for the general dead;
Man's universal race, extinct in flesh.
But in the spirit immortal; not alone
For those who died unwitting of all truth,
But whose souls opening after like a flower
In finer air, may compass more than we;
Not only for the sage, saint, seer of old
Who saw thy truth but darkly, felt thy light
But feebly, yet, unfaltering, held the faith,
That the good God who made all, all decrees,
Allots and blesses all, in this life, man
May trust like lovingly for life to come.
Not only therefore for the wise of yore,
But for the mass unwise of all times, now,
Passed and to come; who boast not of thy love,
Nor glory in thy name; but spurn thy law,
Nor keep thy precepts; for the wicked man
Who hates thy righteousness; and for the good
Who his own preacheth; for the scorner who
Despiseth thy humility, most high!
The ignorant who thy providence misdoubts;
The dark inverted soul who sees not thee;
The bigot who maligns thee, Lord! for all,
Quick, dead, we ask thy boundless mercy, more
Than all sin, all defect, as infinite
O'erlaps all finites. But by us be none
Condemned. Shall culprits take the judge's seat?
Christ's lesson of forgiveness mote not we
Forget. If they who wrought earth's crowning crime
Were of his intercession worthy, Lord!
Of whom shall fellow--sinners, like ourselves,
Despair? To whom shall mercy hope deny?
And we entreat thee, that all men whom thou
Hast gifted with great minds may love thee well,
And praise thee, for their powers, and use them most
Humbly and holily, and, lever--like,
Act but in lifting up the mass of mind
About them; knowing well that they shall be
Questioned by thee of deeds the pen hath done,
Or caused, or glozed; inspire them with delight
And power to treat of noble themes and things,
Worthily, and to leave the low and mean;
Things born of vice or day--lived fashion, in
Their naked native folly: make them know
Fine thoughts are wealth, for the right use of which
Men are and ought to be accountable,
If not to thee, to those they influence.
Grant this, we pray thee, and that all who read
Or utter noble thoughts may make them theirs,
And thank God for them, to the betterment
Of their succeeding life; that all who lead
The general sense and taste, too apt, perchance,
To be led, keep in mind the mighty good
They may achieve, and are in conscience bound,
And duty, to attempt unceasingly
To compass. Grant us, all--maintaining sire!
That all the great mechanic aids to toil
Man's skill hath formed, found, rendered, whether used
In multiplying works of mind, or aught
To obviate the thousand wants of life,
May much avail to human welfare now;
And in all ages henceforth and for ever.
Let their effect be, Lord! to lighten labour,
And give more room to mind; and leave the poor
Some time for self--improvement. Let them not
Be forced to grind the bones out of their arms
For bread, but have some space to think and feel
Like moral and immortal creatures. God!
Have mercy on them till such time shall come;
Look thou with pity on all lesser crimes,
Thrust on men almost when devoured by want,
Wretchedness, ignorance, and outcast life.
Have mercy on the rich, too, who pass by
The means they hold at hand to fill their minds
With serviceable knowledge for themselves,
And fellows; and support not the good cause
Of the world's better future. Oh, reward
All such who do, with peace of heart, and power
For greater good. Have mercy, Lord! on each
And all, for all men need it equally.
May peace, and industry, and commerce, weld
Into one land all nations of the world,
Rekinning those the deluge once estranged.
Oh! may all help each other in good things,
Mental and moral, and of bodily kind.
Vouchsafe, kind God! thy blessing to this isle,
Specially. May our country ever lead
The world, for she is worthiest; and may all
Profit by her example, and adopt
Her course, wherever great, or free, or just.
May all her subject colonies and powers
Have of her freedom freely, as a child
Receiveth of its parents. Let not rights
Be wrested from us, to our own reproach,
But granted. We may make the whole world free,
And be as free ourselves as ever, more!
If policy or self--defence call forth
Our forces to the field, let us in thee
First trust, and in thy name we shall o'ercome;
For we will only wage the righteous cause.
Let us not conquer nations for ourselves,
But for thee, Lord! who hast predestined us
To fight the battles of the future now,
And so have done with war before thou comest.
Till then, Lord God of armies! let our foes
Have their swords broken and their cannon burst,
And their strong cities levelled; and while we
War faithfully and righteously, improve,
Civilise, Christianise, the lands we win
From savage or from nature, thou, O God!
Wilt aid and hallow conquest, as of old,
Thine own immediate nation's. But we pray
That all mankind may make one brotherhood,
And love and serve each other; that all wars
And feuds die out of nations; whether those
Whom the sun's hot light darkens, or ourselves
Whom he treats fairly, or the northern tribes
Whom ceaseless snows and starry winters blench;
Savage or civilised, let every race,
Red, black, or white, olive, or tawny--skinned,
Settle in peace and swell the gathering hosts
Of the great Prince of Peace. Oh! may the hour
Soon come when all false gods, false creeds, false prophets,
Allowed in thy good purpose for a time,
Demolished, the great world shall be at last
God's mercy--seat, the heritage of a pure
Humanity, made divine, and the possession
Of the spirit of comfort and wisdom; shall all be
One land, one home, one friend, one faith, one law;
Its ruler God, its practice righteousness,
Its life peace. For the one true faith we pray;
There is but one in heaven, and there shall be
But one on earth, the same which is in heaven.
Prophesy is more true than history.
Grant us our prayers, we pray, Lord! in the name
And for the sake of universal man,
Who thee like Saviour as Creator, holds
Over all worlds, one holy Spirit God.

The Crowd.  Amen!

Lucifer.  Well, friends, we'll sing a hymn; then part.
I give it out, and you sing--all of you.

Oh! earth is cheating earth
From age to age for ever;
She laughs at faith and worth,
And dreams she shall die never;
Never, never, never!
And dreams she shall die never.

And hell is cursing hell
From age to age for ever;
Its groans ring out the knell
Of souls that may die never;
Never, never, never!
Of souls that may die never.

But heaven is blessing heaven
From age to age for ever;
And its thanks to God are given
For bliss that can die never;
Never, never, never!
For bliss that can die never.

My blessing be upon ye all; now go!

Festus.  I wonder what these people make of thee.

Lucifer. Ay, manner's a great matter.

Festus. They deserve
All the rebuke thou gavest them, and more.
What mountains of delusion men have reared!
How every age hath bustled on to build
Its shadowy mole--its monumental dream!
How faith and fancy, in the mind of man,
Have spuriously immingled, and how much
Shall pass away for aye, as before yon sun,
Lord, he alike, of steadfastness and change,
The visionary landscapes of the skies;
The golden capes far stretching into heaven;
The snow--piled cloud crags; the bright wingèd isles,
Which dot the deep impassive ocean air,
Like a disbanded rainbow, of all hues,
Fit for translated fairy's Paradise;
Or as before the eye of musing child,
The faces fancy forms in clouds, or fire,
Of glowing angel, now; now, darkening fiend's.
Arts, superstition, creeds, philosophy,
This solid called because material,--each
Hath held in turn man's mind, betrayed and mocked;
Thou, too, vain science, who wouldst level man,
And all create with God, thine hour is come;
Thy lips were lined with the immortal lie,
And, dyed with all the look of truth; men saw,
Believed, embraced, detested, cast thee off.
Thou wouldst not take in vain God's name. Wouldst take
His being into thine apprehension? No!
Those lights the morn of truth's immortal day,
As thou didst falsely swear them, have not all
Vanished, the mere auroras of an hour?
Yet didst thou vow to gather up, clear again,
The fallen waters of humanity, smoothe
The flaw from an eye; piece even a pounded pearl.

Lucifer. I bet she failed.

Festus. Thank God, I am a man,
Not a philosopher.

Lucifer. Of that brand, oh no:
Not a materialist. Another cast,
Science may yet succeed.

Festus. She never can.
Rivers may rot the root of oak fire--bolted;
Revive it, never.

Lucifer. True; for once be gay.

Festus.  Oh, let me to the hills, where none but God
Can overlook us; for I hate to breathe
The breaths, and think the thoughts, of other men,
In close and clouded cities where the skies
Frown like an angry father, mournfully.
Oh, but I love the hills; love loneliness,
Allwhere of desert shore, or wold scant--lifed.
Where there is nothing else, there is always God.
Yes, wearied soon of borough crowds, I love
My fellows most at arm's length, not too near--
In the mid distance, somewhat,--nature seems
A holier mediatress 'tween God and man,
Mean mightier than aught else. But when alone
Braced by life--searching thought, I go to meet
Heaven on the hills, my soul, with love of his
Creations filled, I feel expand at ease,
In sensefulness of Deity; and amidst
Star--mimicked snows, indigenous of the skies,
Conscious of spirit made capable to accept
Celestial intimations, and in deeps,
Deeps luminous and profound of utter thought,
Implunged, of God's perfections infinite,
His simple ways I muse, all kind; him, soul
Substantial of the universe, and his ends,
Divining better from those goodliest acts
In world foundations traceable, than in tomes
Named revelative, too oft to his nature false,
His boundless bounteousness. And, wotting well,
How to be sought he loves, not only in prayer
And praise, not only in virtue helped, wrong crushed,
But for himself essential, seek betimes,
Softly and solitary, nor deem to miss
Always the spot surpriseful, where he might
Self secretive, have hidden him; there no less
Conceivably, than in columned temples; now,
In sea halls echoing tidal thunders, walled
With wave--scooped rock, piled mightily crag on crag,
Like masonry of gods; in chasmy caves,
Cool, oozy, unsuspect of brangling crowds,
Where ocean oft his white steeds stalls; impaved
With gore--dyed granite, as though God, concerned
For private weal and suffering, had in wrath
And very truth, for ravaged lands, and fields
Depopulated, some pest enorme, hide--winged,
Horn--lidded as to his eyes, trode down to death,
And drowned in his own poisonous blood, gall--greened;
Then, 'neath earth's threshold buried, hot;--and now
Midst woods, O awful woods, ye natural fanes,
Whose very air is holy, and we breathe
Of God; he, while we worship, there for us.

Lucifer.  All this done leisurely, and some other things
Of like necessity, say, and a green old age
Waits sweetly both. Had I more faults than one
My favourite failing would be found, I fear,
In fondness for society. Much beside
Mountains and groves me 'lure.

Festus. Ah true; there's man, So rich in wants.

Lucifer. And woman, wealthier still
In that particular, seeing she wants just now,
To want her master. There are maids I know
Look to be asked for yet, ere they grow grey.

Festus. Oh, but I am put to the ban, this day.

Lucifer. Let grief
Weep her eyes dry to their last tear, to--night;
She hath a trick of brightening up, ere morn,
Would startle many a ghost, could he but wait.
Exile mayhap, who knows? commute, our time,
With such accomplishments as I to thee
Own owed, such gifts and potencies as erst
Were promised, will be well filled up. Meanwhile
It is fit that something more were done for man,
By those who aim to benefit him, than aught
He now enjoys. Some social Paradise,
Some practicable Elysium, canst not plan,
Devise, imagine, scheme? It is scarce my cue.

Festus.  Long have I pondered such. But ne'er, while earth's
Incongruous nations each, as now, its end
Selfish would gain by force or fraud, exists
One chance that good men's dreams be verified.
Never till peace one--minded sway the whole.

Lucifer.  The sole equality now on earth is death;
The rich have ne'er enough of everything;
The poor have never enough of anything.
I am for judgment: that will settle all.
Nothing is to be done without destruction.
Death is the universal salt of states;
And blood the base of all things, law and war.
Society broken up and well ground down;
The world in short macadamised, might serve;--
The road to hell wants mending. Come away!

Festus.  But can such peace be attained without all war?

Lucifer. Think so.

Festus. Who lives to see were surely blessed.
And now, take note, I climb yon hills.

Lucifer. Yon hills?
There's no one, sure, lives there, who--

Festus. When shall I Return?

Lucifer. I'll think. When gorse, say's, out of bloom.

Philip James Bailey's other poems:
  1. Festus - 35
  2. Festus - Proem
  3. Festus - 37
  4. Festus - 8
  5. Festus - 44

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