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Philip James Bailey (Филип Джеймс Бэйли)


Festus - 9


Meanwhile, as nought
Had passed, we see them presently, meet. Who knows
How 'tis we reconcile ourselves to evil?
But in this bird's--eye view of earth, and track
Of dust stirred through all nations, note we whilst
His friend malevolent triumphs by control
Of superficial miracles, compassing
With him, as day and night, together, earth,
Man, shown all forms and fanes of faith as vain
Alike, in God's esteem, knows, in truth's light
Her total season, sunlike, blossoming here,
Here ripening, God his secret will, well--pleased,
Sees gradually mature; domes old or new
Misdedicate, or mean, with his presence filled,
To himself, the all--shrinèd One reserves; until,
In all earth's living tabernacles, each land
Him worship, God, the untempled, whom all creeds
Concelebrate.

Earth's Surface--An Hour's Ride.
Lucifer and Festus.
Lucifer. Wilt ride?

Festus. I'll have an hour's ride.

Lucifer.  Be mine the steeds; be me the guide.
I something know of almost every land,
Their features, products, legends. Understand
My lot has been to know men's sagest teachers;
Their prophets, patriots; and, go to!--their preachers.
Apart from any prejudice, let me add,
They are, most of them, indifferently bad.

Festus.  Quick! I'll not question what you say.

Lucifer.  It's odd I never make a call
But it's--Long looked for, after all!

Festus. Come, call your hacks.

Lucifer. Oh, they'll not stay.
It may not be with me as some;
What I invoke is pretty safe to come.
Come hither, come hither, my brave black steed;
And thou too, his fellow, hither with speed;
Though not so fleet as the steeds of death,
Your feet are as sure; ye have longer breath;
Ye have drawn the world without wind or bait,
Six thousand years, and it waxeth late;
So take me this once, and again to my home;
And rest ye, and feast ye.

Festus. They come, they come.
Tossing their manes like
Pitchy or snowy surge; and lashing
Their tails into a tempest; their eyes flashing
Like shooting thunderbolts.

Lucifer.  So! know your masters, colts.
Choose.

Festus. The white one.

Lucifer. Be it so,
Mourning suits me best, we know.
Up and away.

Festus. Hurrah! hurrah!
The noblest pace the world e'er saw.
I swear by heaven, we'll beat the sun,
In the longest heat that ever was run,
If we keep it up, as we've begun.

Lucifer.  I told thee my steeds were a gallant pair.

Festus.  And they were not thine, they might be divine.

Lucifer.  Thine is named Ruin, and Darkness mine.

Festus.  Like all of thy deeds, now, that's unfair.

Lucifer.  A civiller and gentler beast
Than thine, thou hast never crossed, at least.
Now, look around.

Festus. Why, this is France!
Nature is here like a living romance.
Look at its vines, and streams, and skies;
Its glancing feet, and dancing eyes.

Lucifer.  Well worth no doubt a second glance.
But now, one glimpse with me, from Alp to main!
See its wide glebe, with rooted seas of grain
Billowing; its cities bowered mid fruit--groves, here,
Such as by Adour, or Dordogne, a life
Flowerful all years enjoy; there, heights cave crowned,
Where lordly savage, long ere time could count
How many his fingers, or his horn--book knew,
Warful 'gainst the elements, pampered babe and mate,
On the pink silvered pith of fawnling's limbs,
And marrow of all he slew; and there, his life's
Last chase achieved, to the end superb, his neck
With rough red amber gorgeous, greatly died.

Festus.  Now, Europe's head, all others scorning;
Model of states, now; then, their warning;
Strangest of nations, light yet strong,
Fierce of heart, and blithe of tongue,
Prone to change, so fond of blood,
She wounds herself to quaff her own,
Shows, aye, a brave, bright, lovely land;
And well deserving every good
Which others wish themselves alone;
Could she but herself command.

Lucifer.  On, on, no more delay
Or we'll not ride round the world, all day.

Festus.  Good horse get off the ground.

Lucifer.  Sit firm; and if our coursers please
We'll take at once the Pyrenees.
'Twas bravely leapt.

Festus. Ay, this is Spain;
Europe's last land twill e'er remain.
Last in the progress of the earth
To moral light, and liberty;
In all things last, to prove how bigotry
Can waste all wealth, and banish worth.
Studded with many a gloomy shrine
What is't men worship here, I pray?

Lucifer.  This fane, once Moslem, Christian now,
Refuses obstinately to say.

Festus.  But mean not men to one, the same, divine,
However rites may vary, e'er to bow?

Lucifer.  Away, nor loiter now for pictured art,
Or natural scene by miracle consecrate
Or patriot war, mock chivalry or true;

Festus.  Not where the rivulets flow of life, and death,
Nor Tayo's wave gold--footed? Not even to spy
The Iberian vault, where, sire of swords, Tubal
Abode, first; great Alcides, after, famed
For magic, marvels necromantic, wealth
Untold, unhallowed?

Lucifer. Not an instant. Come!
Turn thy steed, and slacken rein;
Quick, we must be back again;
Oer the vale hid in the mountain;
O'er the merry forest fountain;
Ruin and Darkness, we must fly
O'er crag and rift, swift, swift, swift
As the glance of an eye.

Festus.  See here is Italy, the grave
Of freedom slaughtered once; who now
Accomplishing her prophet's vow,
In resurrection from the dead
Uplifts her pure and graceful head,
Content to keep her wise and brave.

Lucifer.  Oh, yes; and here where Alp and Alp Pennine
Force, snowy--tented, heaven: shall many a hill,
His head with olive wreathed, and his foot bathed
In fat of flour, and milk, ring loud with joy,
O'er superstition's end.

Festus. Be not so sad,
Since worse may happen, even here; where Tiber, stream
Cloud--born, of empire, rolls; and that, the Hun,
God's scourge, lies coffined under; may so sleep
One time, all evil beneath love's covering flood!

Lucifer.  And there lies Greece, whose soul, men say, hath fled.

Festus.  Some god perhaps may come and raise the dead.
For birthplace once of gods;--such, ancient Time,
Lord of the golden age; and he, self--styled,
Monarch of space, and all celestial orbs,
Heaven, fount of light; such Zeus the All--living One
Hight Saviour; such the Titan sage and good,
Who upon Caucasus suffered; birth--place, too,
Of something more than gods, philosophy;
Art, science, polity; what yet thence may come,
Who knows?

Lucifer. Not I. Time nips us.

Festus. Athens, home
Of heroes, and of gods Olympus, not
To stay our steps, one instant; not to see
Parnassus, heaven of bards, nor Delphi?

Lucifer. No!
What hours have we to waste on gods, or, worse
By one degree,--on bards? let heroes be.
Not he of hyperborean fame who earth
Rounded, on golden arrow, white winged, was like
To sleep more on his path. But see, the isles;
The starry islet wandering with the wind
Once, rooted now, the cradle of twins divine;
The Rhodian, sovereign of the sacred sea;
God--nursing isles, isles god--entombing; graves
Of demigods who made believe to die.

Festus. Legends like these, once pleased.

Lucifer. But now,
Through yonder dark and winding rift,
Pass we, where Mounts Kropakhian lift,
Each one, his lightning--scarred, but dauntless brow;
Hard by the sensitive fount, whose wave obeys,
With an obsequious volume, the moon's wane,
Or increment; and that funereal spur
Of night--hued marble, that round beglooms the air.
Lo! there the unpeaceful Euxine, womb and tomb
By turns, of many nations; nor far off
Twin cities, keys of empire, mark, blood--dyed,
Matched but by Troy of host devouring fame.
The pool Maeotic here, worshipped as god
By Scythian, and the Amazon, militant dame,
Jealous of the archer breast.

Festus. Away! away!
From Pesth to Worms seems but a trot. This day
I feel the gad.

Lucifer. But first, a double, I pray.
Norward, a time, we'll hold our course,
Thine I think is the bolder horse,
But bear him up with a harder hand;
Rough riding this o'er Swisserland.

Festus.  So all have found it, who have tried;
High as their Alps the people's pride,
Never to have bowed before
The tyrant, or the conqueror.
One glance.

Lucifer. Oh two I'd have thee take.

Festus.  'Tis Leman; freedom's sacred lake
Whose shores by genius hallowed, stand
Its Eden, and its holy land.

Lucifer.  Away, away; before thee lie
The fields and floods of Germany;
From legendary Rhine, whose bed's
The crypt of goblin gold; hills bare,
The Demon Shadow seems to stride;
Demon indeed, a man self magnified;--
Hills, forested to their crown; and where,
By virgins' bones and magians' heads,
'Gainst harm forefended, who would dare
Attempt it, even of fiendish foes?
To steep Schaffhausen's seething snows,
That know not, more than time, repose,--
To founts Danubian, and their fall
Through the Iron Gates, behold it all!

Festus.  Well I love thee, fatherland;
Sire of Europe as thou art;
Be free, and crouch no more, but stand;
Thy noblest son will take thy part.
Oh sooner let the mountains bend
Beneath the clouds, when tempests lower,
Than nations stoop their sky--compeering heads
In homage to some petty despot's power.
The worm which suffers mincing into parts
May sprout forth heads and tails but grows no hearts.

Lucifer.  There lies Austria, famous land
For fiddlesticks and sword--in--hand.

Festus.  And Poland whom truly unhappy we call;
Unable to stand, unwilling to fall,
Forge into swords thy feudal chain;
Smite even the souls of foes in twain;
The shackles have been bound in vain
Round England's arms, and we are free,
As the souls of our sires in heaven which be.
That earth should have so few
Men, fathers! like to you!

Lucifer.  What matter who be free, or slaves?
For all there is one tyranny, the grave's;--
Or freedom, may be. On, on, haste!

Festus.  What land is yonder wide, white, waste?

Lucifer.  Ha! 'tis Russia's gentle realm;
Whose sceptre is the sword, whose crown the helm.
Wouldst know the difference 'twixt the bond and free?
'Tis that these will, those will not, liberty.

Festus.  Truly, though strange it sound to some,
All government's by rule of thumb.

Lucifer.  Thou seest, mid air, that darling little cloud?
To us, I think, 'twill be allowed
To pass beyond, above, that we may spy
Rightly, the things which round us lie;--
From Zemlia, and the sistering islets seven,
And Thulé ultimate hiding--place of man,
By the hill Altaic, named, in the age of mounds,
The Almighty God, by Tchudic tribelets, now
In the book of nations known no more; there, still,
Higher than lark soars, cloudlet scuds, it stands;
To Volga, holy Boug, and warlike Don;
Divine Alborz, the sacred mountain, site
Of the Promethean agony, where he spilled
His blood, who, a god, the end of gods foretold;
And Caspian, 'neath whose shallowing wavelets hides
God's Eden.

Festus. O rich in secrets!

Lucifer. See, where towers
Baghavan upon whose brow the holy flame
Incessant burns to Aurmazda, lord of light.

Festus.  I swear by every atom that exists
I better love this reckless ride
O'er hill and forest, lake and river wide,
O'er sunlit plain and through the mountain mists,
Than aught thou hast given to me beside.

Lucifer.  Kerman's sands, salt--white, swept by torrid wind,
Plague--breath'd, there, see; which, roused the desert dust,
Blinds man's bright eye, and mummifies his frame.
There oft, in arid dell, the cool suhrab
Calm mockery of sweet waters, overhung
With green and succulent shrubs, you seem to hear
The ripple of the waves, delusive lurks;
Shamo and Koom and Kobi, Heraut; and Balkh,
Mother of cities, murally encrowned,
Mourning mid endless ruins, but hiding yet
His marble throne, milkwhite, who of mortals king
First reigned:--shall we seek, and fit it for the last?
Now from our Mount of prospect to descend,
Our gryphon flight 'twere better here to end,
And solid earth reseek. Bear, downwards, friend.

Festus.  Look, my way I can only read
By the sparks from the hoof of my giant steed.

Lucifer.  There, by the gilded roof, which from afar,
Gleams o'er the desert like an earth--propped star,
Observe Thibetian L'hassa, templed seat
Of an incarnate Deity, where still
Mix Shamans and the Lama's lieges; those
Urging the stars, and with sublime deceit
Announcing fate; these, with machine--made prayers,
Their transmigrative God, who immanent aye
In your humanity leaps from frame to frame,
Deathless, nor ever fails.

Festus. Still eastwards, ho!
See what a long, long track
Of dust and fire behind;
For leagues and leagues aback;
And shrill and strong, as we shoot along,
Whistles and whirrs, like a forest of firs
Falling, the cold north wind.

Lucifer. Where art thou now?

Festus. In Tartar land;
I know by the deserts of salt and sand.
Nor aim nor end hath the wandering life,
Rest reaps but rest, and strife but strife;
With the nations round they ne'er have mixed,
For good or for ill, they stand all still,
Their bodies but rove, their minds are fixed.

Lucifer.  Miss not the chance, Manswara's lake!
The sight alone, some pilgrims say,
Immortally blessed the soul will make.
There, feast thine eyes with it, and away!

Festus.  Father of fables, much I fear
Thy creed more liberal than sincere.

Lucifer.  Pray fancy not what I repeat
I have any faith in; men will cheat
Their souls with legends in all ages;
And I,--I'm only eighth of all the sages.
Start not, we are on earth's roof ridge here,
The watershed of nations, old Pamir.
Courage, we need not fall. There, Kokonoor,
Sea subterranean, once, of wandering fame;
Here Baikal, holy lake, of mountain meres
Vastest; and those twin pools, named eyes of heaven;
Shelinga, there!

Festus. Ancestral seat, first home
Of perfected humanity, ice--chill now,
But glowing once with the heart--heat of new earth!
Haunt of the young immortal's golden years,
Ere nations boasted names, base wile; 'twas here
The primal people of angel seed outlined
All human knowledge, taught with difference fine
Tongues of diverse roots; wise, themselves, and free,
While culturing earth they charactered the skies;
Their veritable divinity penned in signs
Celestial; and in heaven's constellate lights
One natural creed eternized.

Lucifer. So?

Festus. Are these
The hills sepulchral talked of, sodden with blood
Of slaughtered henchman, slave or steed; far round
Earth heaves with tomblets, as the sea with waves;
These old, old wilds Kathayan; graves as yet
By art or avarice unprofaned, where lie
Kings fameless, of unstoried states, entombed,
Forgot, together?

Lucifer. These! And there, not far,
Lo! mounds even mightier, where two summer days,
The shepherd sheik, as a lion of the sands
Lean, keen, brown--maned, shall mark both herd and flock
Content, depasture; underfoot, the Khan,--
God's shadow; brother, may be, of the moon;
Sole refuge of a wretched world, the whiles
He plundered, and to those who asked, gave bread,--
Sceptred, and swathed within his leaf--gold shroud,
Sleeps, doubtless, sound; though o'er that sacred head
Shrill sings the boor; who, striding round the base,
In meditative measurement, and round,
Twirls his long lance, contemptuous of the time
He lives in; which but likes great things, not makes.

Festus.  And yonder see old China's wall!
Where gods of gold men's minds enthral;
Gods whose gold's their only worth.

Lucifer.  Well, is not gold the god of earth?

Festus.  Whate'er, meseems, men's gifts; their clime,
Their race, their ends, their lore, their time;
Round earth one universal instinct reigns;
Hear allwhere talked of, gods; see allwhere fanes.

Lucifer.  True; here men worship mighty Brahma; there,
Pure Buddh alone is named in prayer;
And yonder, nought save heaven;
Far round, Islam hath conqueror been;
And Moses, and the holy Nazarene,
O'er half the world hath driven.

Festus.  I doubt not; each of variant rite,
But all concerned with the Infinite;
The one, the sole; in whose kind hand
Lie all things by him formed or planned,
All orbs, all souls; to none denied,
Save hearts of prejudice and pride,
Grace, whereby each is sanctified.
O'er all the world one faith I deem,
Howe'er unlike the expression be,
In type, tradition, liturgie,
The life immortal, God supreme.

Lucifer.  True; and to such conclusions come,
One might almost have stayed at home.

Festus.  A moment breathe we. Every land,
Beside the sacred trivialities
Which most the unthinking millions please,
Hath its own sanctity.

Lucifer. Oh, I understand.

Festus.  Here Konfutsé, pure sovereign sage, who realm
By realm, truth--seeking, knew but, named but God,
The great one, ere all nature, ere all law;
The eternal reason that had arched the heavens;
The universal essence; here Meng--tse
Superbly taught all acts,--the human soul
Not self--condemned by inborn pravity,
To ever--deepening sin,--essays towards good,
As water aye its level seeks; here, son
Of truth, self--styled but truthless, Lao, preached
Of deathly souls, and pleasure's quest, life's end;
And, head of earthly immortals, held that God,
From whom the world, as life from light, in death
His gift supreme, eternal life, resumes.

Lucifer.  But now for time's sake, let us rise
A thought superior, towards the skies;
We have but to reach a certain height,
And everything appears in sight.
See there; one instant cast thine eye
Where, on the world's edge, isle--crowds lie;
Massed nebulous; great, small, rich in gold, spice, gems;
From far Niphon, where, shrined, the bull of light
Butts first, with fiery horn, the egg mundane;
And Miako's gilded idol, hugest he
Of hand--wrought gods, sits placid, to the isle
Earth's equatorial scores as with a sword,
Midstwise, Sumatra, hundred--citied; seats
Palatial boasting built by gods; to that
Immensest isle, gold--grounded, whose least rill
Outbids Pactolus; where the tameless tribes
Witch--queened, who the boomerang hurl, dwell; and, food--pined,
Do mess on their own blood, disseised of sense;
And Tonboro, neighbour dread to the Khersonnese
Aureate, there lying like some rich reprobate,
With ashes strewn by stern and dominant priest,
Ere absolutive of sin: which seen, and cooled
Our horses' feet in freshening clouds, away!

Festus.  Lo! southwards, hey for Hindustan;
The sun beats down both beast and man;
Herb, insect, tree, for life do gasp;
The river reeks, and faints the asp,
But blithe are we, and our steeds, I trow,
And the mane of mine yet bears the snow
Which fell on us, by Caucasus.
By the four beasts, but this is warm.

Lucifer.  Away, away, nor stint nor stay,
We'll reach the sea before yon storm.

Festus. Wilt take the sea?

Lucifer. Ay, that will we
And swim as we ride our steeds astride;
Come leap, leap off with me.

Festus.  What! from this steep, a mile above the sea?

Lucifer.  Check not thy steed one pace, but passing glimpse
Dhawalageri's pinnacle, earth's supreme,
Kailas, Merou, celestial mounts, mid--sky
Dazzling their divine denizens; Ganges, dropped,
Tradition true, from Siva's solar eye;
And Chandra--bagha, holy to the moon;
But not for these, nor where earth's loftiest leap
Of waters lights the forest gloom, stay we
Our horse--flight: nay, nor for the Edenic isle,
And peak, where foot of Buddh, the last of gods,
Or Adam's first of men, impressed, the land
Hallows to pilgrims desperate, of all creeds.

Festus.  There is a rapture in the headlong leap,
The wedge--like cleaving of the closing deep,
A feeling full of hardihood and of power,
With which we court the waters that devour.
Oh! 'tis a feeling great, sublime, supreme,
Like the ecstatic influence of a dream,
To speed one's way, thus, o'er the sliding plain,
And make a kindred being with the main.

Lucifer.  By Chaos, this is gallant sport,
A league at every breath;
Methinks if I ever should have to die,
I'll ride this rate to death.

Festus.  Away, away upon the whitening tide,
Like lover hastening to embrace his bride,
We hurry faster than the foam we ride;
Dashing aside the waves which round us cling,
With strength like that which lifts an eagle's wing
Where the stars dazzle and the angels sing.

Lucifer.  We scatter the spray, and break through the billows,
As the wind makes way through the leaves of willows.

Festus.  In vain they urge their armies to the fight;
Their surge--crests crumble 'neath our strokes of might.
We meet, fear not, we mount; now rise, now fall;
And dare with full--nerved arm the rage of all.
Through anger--swollen wave, or sparkling spray,
Nothing it recks; we hold our perilous way
Right onward till we feel the whirling brain
Ring with the maddening music of the main;
Till the fixed eyeball strives and strains to ken,
Yet loathes to see the shore and haunts of men:
And the blood half starting through each ridgy vein
In the unwieldy hand, sets, black with pain.
Then let the tempest cloud on cloud come spread,
And tear the stormy terrors of his head;
Let the wild sea--bird wheel around my brow,
And shriek, and swoop, and flap her wing, as now;
It gladdens. On, ye boisterous billows, roll;
And keep my body, ye have ta'en my soul.
Thou element, the type which God hath given
For eyes and hearts too earthy, of his heaven;
Were heaven a mockery never I would mourn
While o'er thy billows I might still be borne;
While yet to me the power and joy were given
To fling my breast on thine and mingle earth with heaven.

Lucifer.  'Twas always one of my profoundest wishes,
The sea to study, and consider fishes.
And now that, well; behold us come;
Nor e'er before could I the time
Spare to such end, though so sublime
Let us explore the great aquarium.
Soon shall we see the denizens of the deep
Dart by us; shapes primaeval claimed by gods
Vishnu, and mixed Oannes; ork, and whale,
The oceanic beast, whose jaws like hell's gates once
Yawned to ingulph the recreant prophet, cast
By crew forefated in the ravening deep;
Sea--horse and seal, old ocean's flocks; and all
That flout the whirlpool, down whose swirling maw
Voracious of all life, the shrieking ship
Plungeth; bright dolphin, lover of the lyre,
For more than one sublime adventure starred;
And, dubious those, behold, whom air and sea
Alternate please, now fly with fins, and now
With wings swim; lords of richest wrecks be these;
All who, or lonely and deathful, haunt the deeps;
All that by coast, by firth, in endless shoal,
Vanwise, or rear, heave shoreward; all who glide
Through streets of submerged cities, weed--draped, thronged
With waves, where, once, as in sumptuous Valipûr, Fluctuated the courtier crowd; through magic Ys;
By its silver flood--gates lost; or gilded marts
Of Vinborg, greed--fouled,--spitefully content,
Nor wink their cold white eye; clang may the bells
Still pendulous in those tide--swept towers, as though
In calm, for prayer; storm--clashed, for victory; they
Reck not, nor death--peal heed; through marble grove
Of pillars, once impalaced, as through copse
Of coralline branchery, they their wavy way
Fan flexuously; uncharmed, unhindered, fan.
Festus.  Land! this the island supplement
To Africa's great continent?

Lucifer.  Not here, not here, nor yet we land;
Though grateful doubtless were the strand
Where, nature's alms, we might the traveller's tree
Meet, in whose veins condensed the essential dew
Flows fontal; while its flowerets, lamp--like, light
To its restful tent of leaves, the wayfarer.
One minute more. We quit the main;
We make the shore. Here's land again;
The Cape! now scour o'er Afric's plain,
From the head of storms, and lion by the sea
High couchant; and God's table, draped with clouds;
By stream Kaffrarian, endless called, and that
Rock--brinked, which through Mataman, townless land,
Rolls; where, too, flourishes first and best of things,--
So by Damaras deemed,--the all--fructuous tree
From whose far--shadowing limb--wood, human fruit
Ripe, deathless dropped; where, half by gumwoods girt,
And palm, barbarian Quorra steals; there, men
In ivory, gold, blood, trade; nor, far remote,
Who the divine child, babe eterne, adore;
Unconscious Deity; haste we, haste we, on.

Festus.  Away, away, on either hand,
Nor town nor tower, nor shade nor shower,
Nothing save sun and sand.

Lucifer.  But here, see many a treeful tract with wood
Well seasoned, as to feed the final fires;
Here, there, a naked realmlet, centred round
Some vast baobab, like aged with ocean's tides;
Within whose cavernous and sepulchral trunk,
Meet village senates, lawing peace, war, now,
To dusky clans; now, in its templed bole,
The idol gods adoring of the land;
Arboreal fane; some dragon--blooded tree,
Like--yeared with the cloud--bow, or one eve, one morn,
Than the stars younger; ranged wherewith the stock
That, willowy, waves above the ruined wreck
Of Babylon, or even that, nigh Memphian well,
Rifted yet vital, 'neath whose honoured boughs
Paused once the sainted pair, who, angel--warned,
Bare in their bosom o'er Zin's isthmian sands,
An unweaned child--god, but a sapling seems
Of yesterday.

Festus. What are these hills we have just
O'ervaulted?

Lucifer. These, Lupata, spine o' the world
Kumara, there, the emerald mount; and there,
See, there they are, I knew right soon
We'd light on the Mountains of the Moon.
Over them, over; nought forbids.

Festus.  Yonder the Nile and the Pyramids?

Lucifer.  Nay, we can't stay to search them. Rise, good steeds;
Let us enjoy another earthscape. See
Louqusor, Medina Thabou; all that rests
Of hundred--palaced Thebes, where, shrineless, dwelt
One who supreme, the unknown, the invisible reigned
'Midst many idolatrous, o'er one tribe devout,
Godwise; and long ere cometary earth
The stars disturbed, with presages of woe
To heaven's great family, in herself to be
Concentrate, and accomplished to the death,
As in a fiery vortex, himself named
To worshipping worlds, as here, the imageless,
The infinite, the eternal. There, behold,
O'er the Erythraean gulf dyed red with blood
Of Pharaoh's hosts, the free, wide sandy wastes
Of kingless Arabie; Mecca, seat of power
Prophetic, and the city of the tomb,
By angels haunted.

Festus. And thy sacred well,
Seem I to recognise from storying pens,
Divine Zemzem, from founts celestial strained
Through astral strata, and the musky loam
Of Paradise; whence moonbrowed maids of light,
Fearless, their life--cups fill with bliss.

Lucifer. And there,
El Kodsh, and substitutive mosque, rock--based,
Upon whose crest, intempled now, shall stand
The archangel stern, when he, by judgment trump
All souls shall summon; and with fate--fraught rod
Inevitable, call forth what Hades holds.
Here, well--walled Joppa, towered before the flood;
There, Tyre, where once Astarte, round the earth
Pacing, moonlike, a star picked up, new fallen,
Which she, at her own altar, stretching out
Her sceptral cross, to herself hallowed. There,
Once, Olybama rose; there, Œnosh; home
Of the giant race, earth dominating, sites now
Sightless to all save eyes endowed like thine.
Here, Byblos, Orchöe there; Bab--El, God's gate,
Where hides mayhap 'neath thunder--thwarted pile,
With archives of mid earth's initial throne,
The foreworld's infant speech; here Nin--evech,
There Arach, Arkite city of the moon;
Whose golden--crownèd shades shall all precede
Kingly, at doom; through Persargadae's graves,
Roman, and Russ, and Norman's castled tomb
Yield up their tyrannous ghosts; his even who yet
In sepulchre secrete still lies; and once,
Mid alabastrine halls. approached through forms
Cherubic, of ubiquitous wing, now, see,
In unearthed sculpture, leagues a thousand hence,
Divining 'fore his gods, with wine; or, now
Immingling arrows, mark him draw, perchance,
Self--sought, his fiery fate; and if, more near,
Thine eye still keep its edge, that wandering vill,
Builded, men say, in test of faith, times passed,
Mid Arab wilds, by great Shedaad, whose walls
In tiers alternate towered of silver and gold;
Invisible since to dulled belief. Dost see it?

Festus.  Is't now a structural mass, dreamlike out--drawn
In vanishing perspective, with pillars winged,
Translucent, quivering up like columned air
Of resurrective dew, sun--fired; dim domes,
And spacious sanctuaries? Or, plainer now,
Is it like a shadowy palace, rich in rest,
The feverous brain of worn--out traveller draws
Upon the heatful noon, that as with glimpse
Of comforting things allures, but while we move
Nearer, retreats?

Lucifer. Ah, good; thou seest it not.
Turn, sudden now, and coast this midland sea,
By Carthage, Barca, Tripoli;
Crete, there, Jove's grave; there, Sicily,
Isle of the sun, whence Hades' equal bride;
And 'twixt whose templed cliffs and us, that barque,
Laden with the sack of Rome, tyrannic queen
Of bonded nations--the tile--gilded roof
Of Jove's high capitol; the seven--starred lamp
And golden table of God's own temple, won
By Vandal king self--crowned of earth and sea,
And their affiliate isles,--storm--sunk, but served,
With ivory thrones, and busts marmoreal, gems
And jewelled caskets, armlets, torques, and rings,
And carquanets impearled, and coffered coin
Of conquered states, to startle, or to adorn
Sicilian sea--nymphs in their billowy play.
By Syrts Cyrenean now we hie,
By Atlas range and Barbary;
By the desert heart of slave--land; waterless sea,
Where tide once haply broke tempestuous, now
Heaves, ponderous, the slow sand--wave, stormy dust
Scattering in poisonous clouds.

Festus. Not far I deem
The Hesperidean gardens, serpent--watched
Once, watched in vain. The honeyed opiate, there,
Was quite too much.

Lucifer. The land of serpents this;
Haunted by adder, cockatrice, those the Moor
Wreathes round his limbs, or, in his bosom, curled
Confederate, cades; those that, by glistering glance,
Charmed song--birds to their death transfix; or those
More fascinative, that oft the innocent breath
Of babes, suck, viperously, away; and once,
By him enormous, on these banks, just cleared,
Of Bagradas; who, memorable worm,
Rome's hosts braved singly; singly suffered siege;
War waged; till by arblast and by catapult,
And burning darts, self--firing as they flew,
Quelled, he at last capitulates with death;
His shining slough to swell the conqueror's pomp.

Festus.  A learned demon past all contradiction.

Lucifer.  Why, look; I'm naturally strong in fiction.
And then it rather piques one to describe
The triumphs of the serpent tribe;
Whether of cobras, god--kinned, thought to have missed
Their way from heaven; or crownèd basilisk, type
Of demon good, and mundane genius; such
As round his healthful staff Asclepias twined,
And saviour named; or such, perchance, as now
Mid Caesarean isle, 'neath mound tower--topped,
Lies tombed, redoubtable dragon; be the tale
Not rather told of ethnic faith, o'erthrown
By conquering cross.

Festus. Their crown is, to have striven.

Lucifer.  See Mong Maesoba, Mount of God, first marked
Of Punic mariner, when from seas unkeeled
Since Argo, or dark diluvian barge, as car
Of gods he hailed it, once fire--ringed; of flame,
Of fume, even, naked now. And now still on!

Festus.  Hurrah! by my soul at every bound,
I feel, I see the earth rush round;
I see the mountains slide away,
That side night, and this side, day.

Lucifer. Wilt see the New World?

Festus. Well; a peep.

Lucifer.  One dainty run, then; one more leap
And lo! we quit this lion ground,
Plunging from palmy steep, once more into the deep.

Festus.  To cross indeed the Atlantic tide,
And far as southmost Fire--land ride,
Would I, if time be ours.

Lucifer. Oh, plenty;
Be there, too, ere we reckon twenty.

Festus.  The sea again, the swift bright sea!

Lucifer.  Hold hard; give rein; and follow me.
See there, the Elysian islets, of eld thought
Home for the heroic blessed, who years divine
Enjoyed, and life eternal as of heaven;
Now, only fortunate deemed, their mountlets crowned
By that beneficent stem, whose top, with clouds
Nightly encompassed, soon as morning beams,
From leaf and ramage sheddeth cool bright showers,
Freshening the fountless soil; matron and maid,
God thanking for his daily boon, with joy
Brim high their globular gourds from every bough.

Festus.  It is somewhere hereabouts I count to have heard
Of other happy spots being found.

Lucifer. No lack
Of such demesnes; the winged isle, to wit,
Walled high with gold--bright crystal, giant kinged,
Round the world flying, oft--sighted, good; but found?

Festus.  And Bolotoo, joint paradise of gods
And men, 'mid ocean isolate, land of shades;
Where, to chance wanderer for the future bound,
And for lost secrets searching, all spent thought
There hoarded, temple, tower, and grove--clad hill
Show but forms permeable; through all he stalks
As through a solid vision; wall, cliff, bark,
Close round him, as over diving gull the main.

Lucifer.  'Tis odds we have gone through it, and not known.

Festus.  Look; listen. There is music in the cave
Where ocean sleeps, and brightness in the wave
The sea--bird makes its pillow, and the star,
Last born of heaven, its azure mirror; far
And wide, the pale, fine gleam of sea--fire glows,
Softly sublime, like lightnings in repose;
Till roused anon, afar its flaming spray it throws.

Lucifer.  Well, now we have travelled above the waves,
Wilt travel a time beneath?
And visit the sea--born in their caves;
And look on the rainbow--tinted wreath
Of weed; pearl--starred, and gemmed, wherewith
The mermaid binds her long, green hair?
Or rouse the sea--snake from his lair?
See where he gambols for us there!

Festus.  Ay, ay; down let us dive.

Lucifer.  Look up; we lack not stars, I swear;
And every star thou seest's alive;
A little globe of life, light, love;
Whose every atom is a living being,
Each into other's bosom seeing;
Each enlightening the other.

Festus.  Oh how unlike man's world above,
Where mainly, vainly, each must strive
To dim, or to outshine his brother.
Would only I were ocean's son,
The solitary brave,
Like yon sea--snake,--no end hath he
To fear because his soul is free,
No future heaven to crave,
Whose life's but to sun all his folds upon
The crest of the highest wave.

Lucifer.  Yon reptile men call serpent of the sea,
Eldritch, huge, ocean--churner, hight in Ind,
In Norland, world circler; whose hoary mane
And visage, sadly human, reared mast--high,
Till suddenly down implunged, it disappearing,
Appals the homebound mariner, as at eve
Rounding his last of headlands blue, he weens
In its eye to have hailed some Pharos, newly erect,--
May be less caitiff than he looks.

Festus. Enough
I have seen of him; some fathoms.

Lucifer. Know this soil
Thou treadst, the continent, once, in ages passed,
Neptunian, where the sea--god righteous ruled,
And his sons ten; here, trace the beds of streams
Foreworldly, such as with voluminous surge
Atlantis cantoned, and, in main long lost,
Their tusky spoil disbogued; or, swollen with doom
Of yearly freshet, scared the rock--scooped booths
Of savage tribelets trembling; there, the bounds
Mark, once of jealous states war--mad, all stilled
By watery and necessitous peace, unhoped,
Unlooked for; here, the isle Triphylian Jove
Judged from his imminent chair.

Festus. And now behold
Drowned lands and verdurous meadows submarine,
Where water turtles wander, pasturing free.

Lucifer.  Come on, come on; the dew, last night
Was heavy.

Festus. Are those spars, so bright,
Or eyes of things which ne'er forgive
That seem to play on us, and glare
With rage, that we so far should dare
To search the hidden deeps
Where tide, the moon--slave, sleeps;
And ork, and kraken, world--forgotten, live?
Where the wind breathes not, and the wave
Walks softly, as above a grave;
Where coral worms, in countless nations,
Build rocks up from the sea's foundations;
Where the islands strike their roots
Far from the old main--land;
And spring like desert fruits,
Shook off by God's strong hand,
Up from their bed of sand.

Lucifer.  There; now we stand on the world's end land;
Over the hills, away we go;
Through fire and snow, and rivers whereto
All others are rills.

Festus.  Through the lands of silver, the lands of gold;
Through lands untrodden, and lands untold;
Lands where his age--long skirmish still maintains
The conquering Araucanian; who from his bounds
The pale face waiving aye, still, manly, serves
The world's essential Spirit; and on whose shore
The mount of thunder, o'er the orb--wrecking flood
Sole buoyant of all things, self--steered, in times
Long gone, first grounding, paused; then ceased, content;
Ceased, from its world--wide wanderings; lands where trined
With son and moon eterne, the rainbow, dream
Of the elements, was adored. Near by, of old,
A marvellous hill towered; is't, I wonder, now?
That crystal mount, cloud--crested, once which stood
In western Tucuman, with acute reply
Answering the solar messages of light,
As equal, equal? deep below its base,
O'erarched, a river navigable will run.

Lucifer.  Nay, if 'twas ever here, it is here, this hour.
Lo! Andes, outer wall of earth; and here
Light--wise, in pardonable idolatry,
Pure Pachacamac, lord of the universe,
By kingly Yngas was adored, and choirs
Sun--dedicated, of virgins; fairer they
Than all the flowers their golden gardens grew;
Or silvern shrubs scarce imitative, and gemmed
With ruby bud or beryl, could show. And now,
Nor mine, nor mountain lake though choked with gold,
Like Titicaca, from whose sacred shores
Long ages lapsed; the scions of the sun,
Mango Capac and Mama Oëllo, stepped
Ancestral, to the sceptre of Berou,--
Our course must stay; nor yet, though nigh, the spot
Where that unbearded brood,--whose gnarlèd knees
Ranked level with the poll of general men;
Whose eyen glared like shields rimmed round with brass;
Where fell their shadow grass nor floweret grew;
At sight of whom men swooned and women died;--
Debarked; whence God best knoweth, here at foot
Of Andes' highest; but them, his vengeance roused
For vast offence--a fiery falchion quelled;
Sudden it swept from heaven, and in one swathe
Laid all their giant trunks.

Festus. What sin was theirs?

Lucifer.  The story's quite apocryphal, I admit;
'Tis nothing, maybe, but a round, sound, lie;
Who told it first, is answerable.

Festus. Thou, too.
Words are deeds spoken. Aught we do is writ
Brief--wise in God's eternal diary.
All acts seem echoed to the skies. We live
As in a bell.

Lucifer. Meanwhile, be it ours to hie
Unstayed by aught above earth, or beneath,
Not even by bass of rivers subterrene,
Booming through caves, each with his several roar,
I hear them plain, down to earth's focal fires,
Still inextinct, and flaming floods; whence dashed,
They reascend volcanic, melled with ice,
Lava, and fishy mud, and so explode
Vaporous, the solid hills; by the mount of stars;
By Chuquibamba's cone of carmined snow;
And Rupurini's demon cliff, dark browed
With wood self--procreate, must we swiften on,
To the equatorial groves that mat the shores
Of Maracaÿbo, and Maragnon's tide,
The sea's tide mastering; Temi, gold--dyed stream,
And falls of Tequendama; rent ere yet
The moon rode, aëry.

Festus. Haste we!

Lucifer. Nature, here,
Of life like lavish as the sun of light,
Leaves all this foodful paradise unbarred,
Ungated even; while almost every tree
Hangs heavy with vital bread, man's simplest board;
Or fruit lactifluous, from whose flower--tipped stem,
High trembling, the earth--gorged Indian, thirstful, drains
At sundown, creamy draughts; to all his kin
Dispensing, patriarchal, bowl on bowl.

Festus.  Our high road narrows shrewdly, here;
A stumble might--

Lucifer. Bah! what a tale!
Thy pad is surefoot, past all fear;
And mine; well, when shall Darkness fail?
But see; not oft the eye comprises,--
Not even when quickened to embrace
A circle wish--wide of pure space,--
View fairer than upon our vision rises.
Behold the isle--gemmed western sea;
Black Hayti, once the imperial negro's throne;
Bahamas, and the Virgins, those to lee;
And that, of all earth's westlands earliest known.

Festus. This road's a trifle rugged.

Lucifer. On!
We have far to prance ere the hour is gone.
By strait and bay, by swamp and plain
Through torrent flood; through hurricane;
Have we our pathless course to find.

Festus.  As quick we ride, on either side,
Atlantic or Pacific tide,
Thoughts legendary of spots where hide
The Aztek's mythic realms, come o'er the mind;
Coy Iximaya, and the precipitous gates
Of that recondite capital, mountain scarped,
Of sacred dwarf--kings, haply, with all theirs
To vanish into cloudland, doomed; thenceforth
With ghosts, of fabulous crowns, such ghosts as haunt,
Easeless, the cots of nations, walk for aye.

Lucifer.  So many rarities will be lost, one day,
No need to moan for a trinket like a town.
See here, Copan's, Uxmal's insculpturèd domes,
Mysterious, tombed alive in matted woods,
Buried erect, unruinous: here, the toils
Combined of royal patriots, and leal crowds,
All limbs who strained to upbuild, and their throats tore
To applaud, complete, what now the bat, the snake,
The wight who hath lost his way, alone know; there,
Serf--reared, the fire fanes of Palenque, cross--famed,
And towers she--eagles nest on imperturbed;
Cholula's terraced pyramid, and those vast,
Mid pathway of the dead, to sun and moon
Hallowed, o'er minor mounds more mean than stars
Which rise, supreme; Subtiaba's palaces;
Cities and holds of dynasties unknown;
Less glorious, may be, than the soldans named
By proud Fardusi, paradisal bard;
Less numerous, not; who natural signs here graven,
Charged with intensest meaning, now all lost;
Wrecked on some rock uncharted in time's flood,
No ebb shall e'er dismask.

Festus. But little seems
To hinder, or to attract.

Lucifer. Wood, river, lake,
Earth's widest, mightiest, spread around,
Beset in vain the path we take,
Intent alone to gain our starting ground.
Some pools, indeed, we'll pass, ere the hoar woods
Of growth eternal, continental reach,
That all enclose,--from florid lands which seas
Columbian lave, to gold--rocked Labrador;
From ocean's gilded sands, by Kalamath,
To silveriest Secklong, we have overswept.

Festus.  There's a dark cloud of slaves, which mars;--
But look! it lifts beneath one's eyes,
The fairest views that round us rise;
Though nought shall blot the bannered stars,
From freedom's skies.

Lucifer.  Here the Aztek's, bowered with floating pleasances
Where sailed the swans of sway symbolic; see,
There Yutah's lake, where the polygamous crew,--
Misled by one self--unctioned, not anoint
Of genius, nor from world--life spiritual, strained;
Who from the brook, the lines of lacquered lead
Sham angel forged, dug out; who, after, fell
Death--shotten, with Caesar's trickling wounds thrice told;
Ill doer he, ill done by,--their starred hour
Dreadless abide, of doom. Here note these hills
With cedars prediluvian, towerlike, crowned;
And yon demarking gap, far blazed through woods,
Where day begins, and east from west divides.

Festus.  I would yon shining chain of waters, now
Slave, Athabascan, down to the Huron, coast.

Lucifer.  Mark, too, those mightiest rivers, tributaries
From Firm--land to their Sea--lord; there, not far,
Ohio broadens; here, gross Missouri dims
The deepening sire of floods, aye tiding on
His current deluge to the ingulphing breast
Of central seas; he, clearing oft his banks
Of secular secrets, too long kept, strange frames
Of mammoth shows, or kindred monster; brutes
Dreadest, whose teeth might nigh with tombstones match;
Limbed, like an oak; but all swept off by heaven,
Creation at the flood revising: such
Burial made they and osseous monument,
To themselves, 'mid riverine swamps; swamps, too, the snake
By red men hallowed, haunts, which multiplies
Annual, its rattling rings; and once, which hid
Nigh sacred well, by priestly craft, the man
Divine, to all of irksome sanctity, fanged
To the death; and so, held amiablest of worms,
And kin, by common treachery, to mankind.

Festus.  What mean these mounds we skim shaped animal--wise,
Turtle's, wolf's, serpent's, favouring, or uncouth,
The vulture's wide--winged brotherhood of death?

Lucifer.  Clan--roots of nations these, one common source
Shadowing, and, reared ere all imburghing walls,
By stalwarth savages, in arts of life
Less skilled than feats of death, and who, where now
State--capitals stand, hounded the hills; as, far
Eastwards, in older sphere, and stony shape
Snake--headed, volumed over downs, and piled,
Progressive, from the Aleutians to the Basque,
Dracontian fanes, oracular logan, cirque
Slab--pillared, tell one vast and simple faith,
Rudely divine; perchance, from heaven. But now,
To reach where Erie through Niagara hurls
Precipitant all her thunderous waters down
His crescent steep, and so to Ontario breaks
A continent's discontent which else, bulged up,
Might the whole Firm--land flood.

Festus. One sound all drowns;
'Tis as Earth's tongue.

Lucifer. Away! Ice now and snow
And frozen firth our echoing hoofs invite
Towards the sacred grove to Esquimo known,
Whence, chipped by giant woodman, man and brute
Fell earthwards, upwards, birds, in sea dropped, fish;
So fable Arctic folk, tribes sparse and spare;
Whose crooked crones, in glittering huts of ice,--
When the vivific sun, world conqueror, ends
Yearly his serpent path, in silent snow
His thunder hiding,--to their home--cloyed youth,
Sharpening the bone--tipped shaft for morse, or seal,
Quaint legends gabble of primal Eld. But see!
Here we are not sole travellers.

Festus. Ah! yon sledge.
Half hound's land this; brave hound; of souls create
Sub--human gifted highliest; most to man
Faithful,--both where the auroral arch o'erbroods
Graves lost, unsearched for not, and the city's heart,
Through life to his last sigh; and so, worthy judged
Such skiey deathlessness as men can give,
Or dogs divine, of Dian's nebulous chase,
Can joy in, led by their leash of light; or he,
Staunch grew, man--hearted, starred in holiest writ,
Who, burning, bays Orion's spacious steps;
Or good Dherreem, sung in the mighty war,
'Twixt chiefs of lunar lineage, and the sun's,
For the empery of Ind;--four--footed friend
To righteous rajah; he, that kingly kin
All blessed and deified,--lonely left, at last
Shakes off, disguiseful test, the shape canine,
And shines heaven's primal virtue, peer of gods.

Lucifer.  Take credit for quite candid praise:
Nor dogs need we, nor sluggard sleighs.

Festus.  I feel the iron in my blood
Drawn curiously towards the Pole;
But oh this cold congeals me; and twere good,
All said and done, to make our goal.

Lucifer.  Thou carest not, then, to tread the terrible ways
Which lead to nature's mightiest mysteries, down
To the humming axis of these surface lands,
Where, earth--guiding, the magnet mountain stands,
Brainlike, ensconced beneath her snowy crown.

Festus.  Not now; as yet, enough to view
Earth's outward.

Lucifer. So then, hence!

Festus. Adieu
America, thou, half--brother of the world;
With something good and bad of every land;
Greater than thee have lost their seat;
Greater scarce none can stand.

Lucifer.  Just touch the Arctic ring will we;
For our horses snort and snuff the sea,
And pant for where they ought to be.

Festus.  Well, here's the sea; and as we flew in,
I said, let Darkness follow Ruin.

Lucifer.  'Twas right, spur on. Come, Darkness, come,
Think of thy well--strown stall.

Festus. And Ruin?

Lucifer.  Oh yes; there's a stable--home
For Ruin, too, after all.

Festus.  For me, I fear no fate to come,
Not that which bids me fall.
Oh happy, if at last I lie
Within some pearled and coralled cave;
Where high o'erhead the booming surge,
And moaning billow, shall chant my dirge;
And the storm--blast, as it hurrieth by,
Shall, answering, howl to the mermaid's sigh,
And the nightwind's mournful minstrelsy,
Their requiem over my grave.

Lucifer.  Through morn and midnight, sunset and high noon,
One hour hath ta'en us; o'er all land and sea,
O'er earthquake opening, and iceberg have we
Swept in swift safety.

Festus. Hour, o'er now, too soon.
Greenland and Iceland far a--lee;
The crests of mountains now I see
Through rolling mists, grey--gilded, burst;
And islands still beloved by me;
Ben--Loda, mount of God, and Nevis, first
Saluted of the sun; and, Erin's isle
Westmost whereon day's lord his parting smile
Through groves of worship, dedicate to fate,
Utters, ere yet, kinglike, in fickle state
He turns to flatterers of his greeting ray.

Lucifer.  There, see the causeway, we'll not foot, to--day,
Of giants, who from Ierne through deep sea,
By long columnar jetty, and pillared pier
Basaltic, crystal--capped, and close as canes
In Javan jungle, treacherous access sought
To Albyn's kingly clans, and fate--stoned throne;
'Twixt Erin, thence, and Cambria steer
The lands are close, but be it known
I have been in sharper straits ere now.

Festus.  See Snowdon's bossy back, and more
Remote, in ice, and snow--light hoar
Plinlimmon's ravine--wrinkled brow.

Lucifer.  By Severn's sea our sinuous course now bends;
Yon windy cliff, your isle of isles that ends;
And Lizard porphyry caved.

Festus. 'Twas here of old,
And old world tales the air load, gods uncouth,
Ogres iniquitous, dwelled, whom Corin, proud
Of Tyrrhene monsters slain, slew, and at once
Sheer o'er the crags dashed; Cormoran, and those vile,
Whose far descendant Rhytho, Uther's son
Brained with red brand on the high Cornubian mount
That still o'erpeers the Atlantic; once, as well,
The Llionnese viewed, and all the Armoric shore
Inundate now for aye, but haunt of brood
Like these enorme, in lays chivalric famed;
Who in towers of brass abode, or burnished steel,
That all the region round imblazed; with throng
Of damsels dungeoned, and brave knights unhorsed;
Fire--breathing dragons, guardians of their gates;
But all, in fine, by some proud paladin
Of table round, or peer imperial quelled.

Lucifer.  Behold the common narrow sea,
Which like a strong man's arm,
Keeps back two foes whose lips, wrath--white,
Prove hearts with rage oft warm.
It is very sure, this land we near
Should all things take their natural course,
Sometime in sea will disappear.

Festus.  And if they do, it might be worse;
In peace and war she is with the sea,
By fate conjoined inseparably.
How shall my country fight,
When her foes rise against her;
But with thine arm, O sea,
The arm which thou lentst her?
Where shall my country be buried,
When bounden to die?
Let her choose out her place in the sphere,
Where she shall lie.
She hath brethren more than a hundred,
And they all want room;
They may die, and may lie where they live;
They shall not mix with her doom.
Where, but within thine arms, O sea, O sea?
Wherein she hath lived and gloried, let her rest be.
When we dream of her end, and her tomb,
We will rise, and will say to the sea, flow over her;
We will cry to the death of the deep, Cover her.
England, my country, great and free,
Heart of the world, I leap to thee.

Lucifer.  It's land; and that's enough for me.

Festus.  What were the world's without thine history?
Let faith her rites, her creeds to Israel trace;
Earth's lore, earth's art, let flow from Graecia's race;
Owe Christendom to Rome its states, its laws;
The freedom of mankind is England's cause.
To science, learning, law, religion, she
Adds nature's grace supreme, of liberty.
Mother of empire, native to command,--
Whose stern self--rule to fickler realms makes known
A love which serves, but serving, awes, the throne;
Hope, yet, and aid, of thrall, in every land;
She first refused with slavery to defile
Her shores; and God looked down, and blessed the Isle;
Saying:--In this cause, Albion, fare thou forth;
Thy fleets, thy hosts, thy peoples, round the earth;
Elect of powers! be first in wealth, as worth;
To lands less blessed teach thou fair freedom's charms;
Fear not the snares of peace; nor war's alarms;
And leave with heaven the issue of Our arms.

Lucifer.  'Tis not for that, she is dear to me,
What I admire is her humility.

Festus.  Sanctuary of peace and song; of toil colleagued
With science, ever largening this, like the orb
Loaded with golden rain of annual stars,
Preponderative, prolific; kingly wealth
Bringing to many a black mechanic burgh
Gas--breath'd, steam--pulsed; and which, by day obscure,
Strangely at night, bright, oft to star--seer skilled,
Who in neighbouring planet notes, maybe, with lens
Than ours more potent, earth's pale spherelet, gives
Sore brain--ache to divine;--isle, with all charms
Natural and social blessed: here, cultured plain,
Green hill, there; grainy level, and fruit--fraught vale;
Downs, dear to freedom; dim and misty moor,
Where aches the eye with objectless survey;
And long dun moss, by cairn or cromlech crowned;
Or lithic dance of giants, 'neath the moon;
Hurlers, or wrestlers, who by sport profaned
Hours holy; or bridal revellers, like beguiled,
That, scornful of Sabbatic peace, till primes,
Footed their fool's reel; and so, fitly earned
Their stony transformation; days of rest
Are theirs, now, unpervert; now, o'er their ears,
The gold--stacked thunder--pipes grave anthems drone,
And voluntaries, in vain; in vain to them
Church--chimes, for aye.

Lucifer. Indeed 'tis very sad.
Legends are these quite touching in their tone:
Instructive, too, remark, when left alone.
Now get on land; quick, hie along;
O'er forest, copse, and glade;
We have but a league or two more to go,
Before our journey's made;
With speed that flings the sun into the shade,
See the gold sunshine, patching,
And streaming and streaking across
The grey--green oaks; and catching,
By its long brown beard, the moss.

Lucifer.  I have shown thee as I promised, earth,
That rightly thou mightst count its worth,
To have and hold. To me it seems
Like valuable with last month's dreams.

Festus.  It favours virtue to have been
But witness of a glorious scene,
Where truth hath taught, and wisdom dwelt;
Where freedom fought, and faith aspired
To earn the love her soul desired;
Where right hath triumphed, wrong hath knelt;
And peace the heaven diffused she felt.

Lucifer.  It may be. Should I find it so,
Another time, and elsewhere, thou shalt know.
But now; ah, here's an open plain;
Here, we'll get down.
Away, good steeds: be off, again.

Festus.  We must be near to town.
I am bound to thee for ever
By the pleasure of this day;
Henceforth let us never sever,
Come what come may.



Philip James Bailey's other poems:
  1. Festus - 35
  2. Festus - Proem
  3. Festus - 4
  4. Festus - 33
  5. Festus - 17


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