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Philip James Bailey (Филип Джеймс Бэйли)

Festus - 20

Enter now heaven. Even man's deathly life
May be there by God's leave. Once brought to God,
The soul's probation and foredoom, and heaven's
Designs towards man, whole man, man personal, show,
Fuller by light of love parental. There,
God's will shall be our own; all spirits be his.
A lightning revelation of the heavens,
And heavenly life, by spirit whose highest aim
Was lowliest to adore the All--good, mistold
Of old, and ever by truthless tongues; to adore
The unity essential, formless, sole
Of God the All--sire of being, source and end;
And though less hard to shape, o'er air's bright heights,
The wide winged wind, he will forgive who owns
Names like the Zealous, like the Merciful; we,
This moment, and all life, all soul, all spirit,
Mind, matter, being as much within his presence,
And known through, like a glass film in the sun,
As though we stood within the star--stoned courts
Of his celestial city. Where he is,
He is all. There are no degrees in deity.
Earth's final doom, man's triumph, peace supreme,
Foreshown, illative each of other's end.

The Deity, Angels, Guardian Angel. Festus and Lucifer entering.
Archangels.  Infinite God! thy will is done,
The world's last sand is all but run,
The night is feasting on the sun.

Lucifer.  All being God! I come to thee again;
Nor come alone. Mortality is here.
Thou badest me do my will, and I have dared
To do it. I have brought him up to heaven,
That thou, just judge, mayst judge 'twixt him and me.

God.  Thou canst not do what is willed not to be.
Suns are made up of atoms; heaven, of souls;
And souls and suns are but the atomies
Of the body, I God, indwell: the natural form
Of mine infinite essence.

Lucifer. Mortal, here
Await, the while I parley fate.

Guardian Angel. Why, now,
Spirit of ill, rufflest heaven's calm?

Lucifer. I will say.
Is not this creature by successful wile
Yet mine? Have I not caused him waste his years
In search of lore forbidden, forgot? in chase
Of intermittent dreams philosophy gives
Brief brain--life to, and vague, of wisdom housed
'Mong men, and virtue homed;--realities vain
Such as the eye, true key of heaven, shapes forth
Imaginative, from shifting clouds; essays
Futile to o'erflesh with sense the iron limbs
Cold science moulds, irreverent; or win wealth,--
Of labour liberal most,--his hoards to impart,
Common as air;--what rights have idiot men
To quarter any element?--to the mass. Who life,
God's best gift, wastes in quests irrational, plans
Immoderately benevolent, although fair
His final aims, sins grossly even as wight
Who from air's aureate mists would wring out gold,
Or from seas silver, and his charity stake
On success, clammed meanwhile his poor.

Guardian Angel. Of good's
Least sparkle God is thrifty. Wish and will,--

Lucifer.  To wish is weakness, mind's strength is to will--

Guardian Angel.  Ends sometimes solid enough beget, as deeds.

Lucifer.  Solidity alas thy charge and thou
Alike lack. Prime in the precipitate reel
Poor Pleasure nightly leads, nought pressed, on earth
More sadly frivolous, headlong whirls this soul.
Rich, saidst thou, in time's coming honours? grave
That should be, with predestined empire's trust?
Heaven's hope? My pampered slave's arch drudge.

Guardian Angel. Youth's powers,
Life's happier gifts, time's privileges, the heart's
Spring--growth of love, joy--fraught, may e'er be used,
And innocently, even not with views forestrained
To the end of being. Man's pleasure in the world,--
His nature made to each fit,--theirs except,
Who twilight sense of future heaven command,
And promissory being yet unfulfilled,
Sense glorious seeming still to the stone--blind mass,--
Is born of socialty; but in the eterne,
Such joys as vanities smirch not, love of self
Degrades not, folly fouls not, God redeems,
Renews; to all adds his own love and grace,
Which keeps them sealike pure, and in godly will
Incorrupt. Thus, if not in pleasurous life,
God's bliss and man's rises, unites, and ends
In self, in deity, who nor motive, good
Nor end knows, other than himself. Thou err'st
If therefore, him thou deem'st almost thine, thine
By weight accumulate of mere levities. These
Ruin not for aye. Even now this soul hath learned
Revulsive to hate vanity, hate the show
Of luxuries and the idlesse of the world
Thou lurest with. Pause! yon constellated scales
Pendent in heaven, whose weights are worlds one soul
Outworths; balanced therein life's well and ill
Show level, as falcon's wings, through every plume
Strained air respiring delicately. What yet,
Imponderable, but all decisive, life's
Brief lapse may add, thou knowest not.

Lucifer. This I know,
Wide fields be mine yet, many a vowed ally;
Aids irresistible; helldom's strength I'll stretch
To touch mine end. Nor public rite, belief
Nor tenet utterable, shall all content
The aspiring spirit like earnest to explore
Earth's farthest, space's highest. It is his will
Power's trustiest aids to learn, truth's inmost shrine,
Felicitative of soul. He the heart inane
Would now of mystery pierce, the maze where eld's
Misfaiths, with heresies new in endless round
Err; and he may, by commerce of false creeds
Chafing away the impress divine of God.
Presumptuous pride falls quickly.

Guardian Angel. He shall not.
God through me speaks.

God. What wouldst thou, Lucifer,
With him thou hast brought here with thee?

Lucifer. Show him God.

God.  No being on part of whom death's curse, though now
Transfigured into blessing, were it only
Upon his shadow, looks on God and lives.

Lucifer. Look, Festus, look.

Festus. God, sole and onemost; God,
Eternal fountain of the infinite, thou
On whose life--tide the stars seem strown like bubbles,
Forgive me that an atomie of being
Hath sought to see its Maker, face to face.
I have viewed all thy works, thy wonders; passed
From star to star, from space to space, and feel
That all to see which can be seen were nothing,
And not to look upon thee, the invisible.
The spirits I met all seemed to say, as on,
Starwards, they sped,--their lightning wings o'er me
One moment slackening,--with superior glance,
I might not look, whate'er I were, on God:
But thou this spirit beside me didst empower
To make me more than them, with gifts immortal;
So when we had winged through thy wide world of things
And marked stars made and saved, destroyed and judged,
I said, and trembled lest thou heardst me not,
Nor madest thyself right ready to forgive,
I would see God before I die in heaven.
Forgive me, Lord.

God. Mortal, rise. Look on me.

Festus. Nought
Unless like dazzling darkness, see I.

Lucifer. Good.
I knew how it would be. I am away.

Festus.  Thy creature, God! am I. O slay me not;
But bid some angel take me, or I die.

Guardian Angel. Come hither, Festus!

Festus. Who art thou?

Guardian Angel. I am one
Who hath aye, till late, been by thee from thy birth,
Thy guardian genius, thy good angel, I.

Festus. I knew thee not till now.

Guardian Angel. I am never seen
In the earth's low thick light; but here, in heaven,
And in the air God breathes, I, too, am clear.
Withheld from active charge on earth, that God's
Ends, by yon spirit late challenged, might show plain
In his own eyes, I have here sojourned; and now,
Leave asked of God, in view of all to come,
And separation's ends, accomplished, seek,--
Telling to God each night thy thoughts and deeds,
And watching o'er thee on earth, as here,--again
To attend thee through thy life--time. Pray for me,
As I for thee pray daily and intercede.

Festus.  Hear, Lord, the prayers of man and angel oned.
And this is heaven. Lead on. Will God forgive
That I did long to see him?

Guardian Angel. It is the strain
Of all high spirits towards him. Thou couldst not
Even if thou wouldst behold God; masked in dust,
Thine eye on darkness lights; but when flesh--freed,
And the dust shaken off the shining essence,
God shall glow through thee as through living glass,
And every thought and atom of thy being
Shall guest his glory; be o'erbright with God.
Hadst thou not been by faith immortal made
For the instant, lo! thine eye had been thy death.
Come, I will show thee heaven and angels, all.
Lo! the Recording Angel!

Festus. Him I see
High seated, and the pen within his hand,
Plumed like a storm--portending cloudlet curved
Half over heaven, and swift in use divine,
As is a warrior's spear?

Guardian Angel. The book wherein,
By far to come collation of fixed spheres
Are written the records of the universe,
Passed deeds of wandering worlds contrast with thoughts
Of fixed to come, 'neath his previsive eye
Illumining that it reads, behold!

Recording Angel. And here,
Thine orb's end, mortal, mark, now nigh.

Festus. Ah me!

Guardian Angel. Turn then the leaf.

Recording Angel. Yet is't not every world
Laid open to its axis thus, by stroke
Of death, hath fate like glorious.

Festus. It is our joy.

Guardian Angel.  See there, where mighty Michael, dight not now
In panoply sun--blinding, nor on war
Exterminant bent, though looking towards a field
Of thunderous battle to be fought yet, big
With creatural fates,--pacific, joys to scan,
At God's behest, the Book of Life, where beam
The names, in starry brilliants, of God's sons,
The spirit--names which angels learn by heart,

Guardian Angel. Wilt see thine own?

Festus. My name? Enough
It is writ, then, in the scroll of life.

Recording Angel. It is writ.

Festus.  Henceforth to me that constellated word
Is more and clearer than all stars.

Recording Angel. To heaven
It is bright or dim as actions cause.

Guardian Angel. Raise still
Thine eyes: thy gleaming throne, hewn from that mount
Of light, which ere created light, or night
Never create, was; heaven's eternal base,
Whereon God's throne is 'stablished. Sit on it.

Festus.  Nay, nothing more than sight will I forestall.

Recording Angel.  Good. I have seen a brighter seat than thine
Like a dejected star, hurled o'er the brink
Of being, to nothingness unconceived, undreamed.

Guardian Angel.  Turn now, and view yon streams where spirits sport
Quaffing immortal life, the river of God,
Whence draw the heavenlies peace, preparing aye
For higher and intenser being; and here,
The upper fountains of the heavens behold,
Waters of life regenerative, like aged
With the emanations of eternity.
There Raphael, healing angel, once of eyes
Terrestrial, purger, bidden of God, presides;
Laving wherewith, the immortals purify
Their sight to penetrate the essential light
In all things hidden, which,--visible but by eyes
Made clear aethereally, like the stone
Of fabulous function, all--conversive seed
O' the sun, conceived of fire, transmutes all touched,
All souls so ones with heaven's great soul. Such bliss
And power, reserved for man; such faculties.
Yet but the surface--shadow canst thou see;
The substance is to be. There Gabriel, chief
Of messengers evangelist to worlds
Desperate of good, or self--condemned, declares
God's warnings; or, predictive, charged with store
Of tidings gracious, towards the spirits around
Expounds his promises. Behold yon group
Of spirits blessed. In their divinest eyes
The spirit now speaks; and shows that in their own
All doubt, all want, have ceased, as death.

Festus. But see!
Hither they come rejoicing, marvelling. Mark
How all with kindliest wonder look on me.
Mayhap to their pure sense I tell of earth.
Some seem as if they knew me. I know none.
But how claim kinship with the glorified,
Unless with them like glorified? Yet, yes!
It is, it must be; that angelic spirit!
My heart outruns me; mother! see thy son.

Angel. Child! how art thou here?

Festus. God hath let me come.

Angel.  Art thou not come unbidden, and unprepared?

Festus.  Forgive me, if it be so. I am come.
And I have ever said there are two who will
Forgive me aught I do, my God, and thou.

Angel. I do. May he!

Festus. Dear mother, thou art blessed!
And I am blessèd, in knowing this of thee.

Angel.  Son of my hopes on earth, and prayers in heaven,
The love of God, oh! it is infinite,
Even as our imperfection! Promise, child!
To love him for this privilege, more than e'er,
And for his boundless kindness shown towards me.
Now my son hear me, for heaven's hours are not
As earth's; all's all but lost not given to God.
Oft have I seen with joy thy thoughts of heaven
And holy hopes, which track the soul with light,
Rise from dead doubts within thy troubled breast,
As souls of drownèd bodies from the sea,
Upwards to God; and marked them so received
That oh! my soul hath overflowed with rapture,
As now thine eye with tears. But oh, my son,
Belovèd, fear thou ever for thy soul;
It yet hath to be saved. Nought perfect stands
But that which is in heaven. God is all kind;
And long time hath he made thee think of him.
Think on him, yet in time. Ere I left earth,
With the last breath which air would spare for me,
The last look life would bless me with, I prayed,
And half the prayer I brought myself to God,
Thou mightst be wise and happy; and now behold
Thou art unhappy, and unwise.

Festus. Beloved
And blessed one, I rejoice that thou art clear,
And all who have cared for me of my misdeeds.
Thy spirit was on those who nurtured me.
All word and practice that could be of good
Was to me given, so that my sin is splendid.
Yes if I have sinned, I have sublimely sinned.
And I am glad I suffer for my faults.
I would not, if I might, be bad and happy.

Angel.  God laughs at evil by man made, and allows it
In common with all free life, scope to act;
The vaunt of mountainous evil and the power
To challenge heaven as from a molehill, child.

Festus.  Few better hearts than mine hath God e'er made,
However much it fail in the wise ways
Of the world, as living in the dull dark streets
Of forms and follies wherein men brick themselves.

Angel.  The goodness of the heart is shown in deeds
Of peacefulness and kindness. Hand and heart
Are one thing with the good, as thou shouldst be.
Corruption's splendour hath no vital power.
Content in sin shows apathy, not peace.
Do my words trouble thee? Then treasure them.
Pain overgot gives peace, as martyr's death
Earns heaven. All things that speak of heaven, speak peace.
Peace hath more might than war. High brows are calm.
The host of stars is still. Their silence weighs
More mightily with the mind--than though they spake
Thousand--tongued, musically; and truths, like suns
Stir not; though systems round them come and go.
Mind's step is still as death's, and all great things,
Which cannot be controlled, whose end is good.
This peace, God's peace, seek thou, and learn to love.
Behold yon throne: there love, faith, hope are one;
There judgment, righteousness and mercy work
One same result, salvation. This of God
His vengeance means in heaven; for how should he
All good, of evil avenge himself, unless
By substituted good? How wrath keep aye,
Save by ill slain to his glory, as on earth
Destruction restoration means to the pure?
Humanity is perfected in heaven.

Festus.  Myself I did not make, nor plan my soul.
I am no angel nursed in the lap of light;
Nor fed on milk immortal of the stars;
Nor golden fruit grown in the summery suns.
How am I answerable for this my soul?
My master, free with me, as fixed with fate;
As a star which moves a certain course in mode
Certain, its liberties are laws; its laws,
Tyrannic, under God. All that we do,
Or bear, is settled from eternity
Endless, beginningless. To act is ours;
Quite sure, not less, all done, or good or ill,
Is for God's glory always, and is ordered.

Angel.  If soul were but an organ, and no power
Of good or evil had haply within itself,
More than the eye hath power of light or dark,
God fitting it for good, and evil being
Good in another way we are not skilled in,--
The good we do of his own good will, the ill
Of his own letting, man were simply slave
Choiceless, of dignity void, nor grandly impowered
To make law, as to obey; a lustrous failure;
A perfect imperfection; even as nature,
All light in life, shines marshlike, too, in death,
With vagrant fires that haunt even rottenness.
But worse with souls that wilfully unjust
We see, reject their privileged walk with God;
Their source of true vitality, lost; and given
So to degenerate life that all their powers,
And splendid faculties, but decaying seem
In sin, and flying off by elements;
Like wandering worlds which scare the extremes of space
With fiery visitation, or in black
Abyss of preordained destruction, slow
Perish, self dissipative; a continent, now
Sloughing, a climate. Oh to such, woe worth!
What shall be done to them?

Festus. Probational life
Doubtless endures as long as justice claims.
All may not live again, but all which do
Must change perpetually even in heaven;
And not by death to death, but life to life.

Angel.  No; step by step, and throne by throne, we rise
Continually towards the Infinite;
And ever nearer, never near to God.

Festus.  Yet merit or demerit none I see,
In nature, human or material none;
In passions nor affections, good or bad.
We only know that God's best purposes
Are oftenest brought about by dreadest sins.
Is thunder evil? or is dew divine?
Does virtue lie in sunshine, sin in storm?
Is not each natural, each needful, best?
How know we what is evil from what good?
Wrath and revenge God claimeth as his own.
And yet men speculate upon right and wrong,
And good and ill, as each annihilative
Of each, like day and night; forgetting both
One cause, the same original have, God's will;
Each, ultimately, him. That God enjoins,
That God permits, are the twin wheels whereon
The world runs glibly enough, and will, to the end.
All right is right divine. A worm hath rights
Kings leagued cannot despoil him of, nor sin.
Yet wrongs are things necessitate like wants;
And oft are well allowed of to best ends.
A double error sometimes sets us right.

Angel.  But if in man no absolute rule inhere
Of right and wrong, his God--given conscience then
Were of all things most base, which, vacillant, lives
Now justifying, again condemning sin,
Accomplice, traitor, judge and headsman, all.
But conscience knows its business and performs;
And though long cowed and crushed, at last due seat
Regains, and claims to sit God's assessor.
Nor this sole, but through penitence due for sin
Her purifying intent expresses, till
Transfigured, glorified, she soars to heaven.

Festus.  Or falls, for ages lost; mayhap for ever.

Angel.  Nothing is lost in nature, least of all
The immortal spirit to deity, proof and pledge
Triumphant, of his kindliest attributes;
His will to uplift, advance, expand, perfect
Each individual soul, and all unite
In one supreme perfection, of himself
The essential image; every state and sphere
Of universal nature, a holy stage
Of purified amendment for the next
Creative birth, and graduated ascent,
Toward this spiritual, summing, centering, all
The excellences of being. Nay, no soul,
Though plunged within sin's blackest, lowest, depth,
Lost to the world, to angels, to itself,
Is lost to God; but there it works his will,
And burns conformably with justice. Sin
Convinced, bears penitence; and from ignorant vice
Converted, springs wise virtue; from mean greed
Active beneficence never satiate, save
With welfare of some rational soul, secured,
Or compassed, charitably: all virtues, means
To some diviner ends, attainable still
By man, majestic in progression. Grace,
Knowledge and love, the sense of harmony,
And beauty of form, used rightly by the spirit
Studious of high ends, are purifying powers.
So, all things that to order and perfectness
Of nature tend, the accomplishments of being,
And blessings of life social, crowned in peace.
For as nature's elements all are harmonized,
And the mind's powers, with thought's perfective rules;
So our emotions trained symmetric, range
Approvedly, with the law of highest good;
In such wise operative, that weakest things
Are yet to be made examples of his might,
The most defective of his perfect grace,
Whene'er he thinketh well.

Festus. Oh everything
To me seems good, and lovely, and immortal.
The whole is beautiful; nor can I see
Aught wrong in man nor nature, aught not meant,
As from his hands it comes, who fashions all;
Holy as his formative word, the world itself
His mightier revelation; to whose sense,
All writ must be attuned, all miracles made
Like broadly just. He breathes himself upon us,
Before our birth, as o'er the formless void
He moved at first, and we with his spirit are all
Livingly inspired. All things are God or of God.
For the whole is in God's mind, what is a thought
In ours. All that is good belongs to God;
And good and God are all things; or shall be.

Angel.  God, in his own parental nature, knows
All creatures and their possible powers; for he
By universal essence is; and through
His attributes, by limited mind alone
Distinguished from his substance, to all made
Imparts his virtues, and with reason impowers
The creatures he, their author, throughlier knows
Than they themselves; their course, their every lapse,
Exorbitant from the right, and glad return
From firmamental exile, back to him:
Who mercifully forgiving sin, foreseen
By precreative eye, yet not approves
Ill, fruit of imperfection, save as test
Of vital faith and patience in pure hearts.
Thus, all created good, or to good ends,
Or sanctified, conduce. Man's highest bliss,
In union with his source and crowning end,
In serving man and loving God; his root,
And finial flower, is when to vast surview
Raised, of God's kingdom, the soul--straitening bounds
Of race, creed, temperament o'ertopped, the spirit
All covetings, vain distinctions, schemes, desires,
To God surrendering, abnegates; to him
Being of beings, who all things vivifies;
Who his own goodness in his creatures seeks;
His own intense perfection; his divine
Beauty and purity, as the sun in dew
His reflex glory. So, too, the liberate soul,
Rapt in the ecstatic gaze of joy he grants,
And into commune raised with its cause, partakes
Freedom divine, divine necessity; nay,
Anticipating eternity, fore--reads
With angels, on God's face, the thoughts of peace,
And miracles of benevolence he conceives
To enrich and bless all life with. But thou, yet,
There lacks in souls like thine unsaved, unraised,
The light within, of perfectness, as in heaven.
How oft the soul, even strong, if tempted falls!
As some rock--towering lighthouse which long years
Rolls its ubiquitous eye, cyclopic, vast,
Sea--searching; but to Time's slow sap and siege
At last consentful, leaves a gap, by groans
Greeted from ruinous barques; and, 'neath the sea
Lurking, exasperates every peril that once
It luminously forbade; so, stable and stern,
The virtuous soul I have seen, long time, command
The future, marked and thanked by thousands saved
Gloriously; but fallen, lie hopeless now as thine
O'ersurged, alas by life's allurements. God,
God only, it is, can raise it and rebuild.

Guardian Angel.  And his, thy son's, he will yet raise. Since with me,
I have shown him infinite wonders. We have oped
And scanned fate's golden scroll wherein are writ
In God's own hand all things to be; have seen
The records of his being, passed, and to come;
His long temptation, sin and suffering.

Festus.  And hear it, O beloved and blessed, mine own

Angel. God, how great is he, in being,
Infinite infinitely, in power, and grace.
But oh! transcendent truth, when thus to one
Poor spirit, he gives his hand in love, he seems
To impart his own unboundedness of bliss.
Scarce worth destroying, one thinks, less saving; each
Loves he as all his equals were.

Festus. I know
All I must henceforth go through, the doubts, woes,
Passions of life; which knowing, hinders not,
Purificative trials, by whose stern aid
The spirit achieves perfection; sloughing off,
Snakewise, constraint of narrower being; the world's
Entanglements, the snares of youth. I bear
Obeyingly; nor repine as erst when I
Looked back, and saw how life had balked, foiled, fooled me.
Fresh as a spouting spring upon the hills,
My heart leapt out to lifewards; little it thought
Of all the vile cares that would rill into it;
The mean low places it must coast; the falls,
The drains, the crossings, and the millwork after.
God hath endowed me with a soul scorns life;
An element over and above the world's.
But the price one pays for pride is mountain high.
There is a curse beyond death's rack; a woe
God hath put forth his strength in; a pain past
All our mad wretchedness when some sacred secret
Hath flown from out the encaging heart, care--closed,
Vainly; the curse of a high spirit famishing,
Because all earth but sickens it.

Angel. Nay, confirm
Thy spirit with godlier, say, with manlier thoughts.
Contrast not earth--life with celestial; both
Variants of one existence deem; the same
This, but immutable, save to happier ends.
Here, as the general air, inspired of all,
All speak the mind of God whose world--like thoughts
Heaven's multitudinous being suffuse, as beams,--
To one who curious treads the wavy panes
Of ocean's floor gold framed, through myriad squares
Tempered, the sun, quickening the expanse with light.
Here, all in all, we live, the weakliest soul
His solar spirit partaking, as need bids;
He not alone of things the conscious force,
But conscience of all spirits, who to heaven's
Perfective science, man's nature so adapts,
By gradual growth of virtue, to attain
Divinity, that he may the whole fulfil.
These excellences of godhood are the modes
Whereby to us create, he makes himself
Known, truth's source, end and centre, which supply
With perfect sustenance each benevolent vow;
Each virtuous aim earth owns; as justly fixed
Towards the perpetual betterment of things,
And reascension sourcewards of all souls;
Heaven's only aim extraneous to itself;
Wherewith earth's wisest, holiest spirits, truth--freed,
Collaborate, that all reach,--none lost,--divine
Perfection, realized only here, where law
Nature and liberty trined, are blessed. Doubt not
If, as thou sayest, thy future life thou knowest,
And but its rudiments surely, limned, perchance,
By eye imaginative, as yet in block
Unhewn, the pillars of Time's temple;--still,
In all things seek, and that sole, perfectness
In nature, virtue, reason, faith; which, used
Rightly, to God unite the spirit outrayed
From him; and with essential Deity tinged.
For while by various faults and flaws, each soul
Falls,--not irrevocably,--God's saving love
By discipline drawn, by penitence, by pure life,
The spirit self strained from guile, relamps, helps on
Its upward way, steep, devious, painful, dark,
With cheering words; and, not contaminate
By voluntary offence, restores, redeems,
Redeifies. Here, the hopes of earth's best hearts,
The master aims of ages, for man's good,
All nature's properties perfected, man's mind,
In God, the rational unity of the whole,
Embraces, and in meditating grows blessed.

Festus. How radiant show you blessèd souls!

Angel. Know, child,
Each faithful thought of God, each saintly hope,
Clear aspiration for earth's weal; pure aim;
Beneficent deed; each reverent service shown
To man's majestic nature, as to him,
The spirit of pure humanity deified,
Each generous thought that warms the social breast
Here beams a ray of life divine, the frame
Fills with e'er heightening beauty, and the whole
Being perradiates with celestial light,
Transfigurative; which known, all choice of good
The soul is capable of, will heaven foretell
In us; and God's embrace, soul--hallowing, show,
Token of the spirit's birth in man, whose mind
Progressive, suffering, but perfectible, crowned,
Divinized, in itself all things made good,
Thus harmonizes with other, and with God.

Festus  Behold the ebb of the life--tide of the world!

Angel.  It grieves not me. We sooner meet. Go, child!
Fulfil thy fate. Be--do--bear, and thank God.
Be good, do good; bear pains heaven sent, resigned
To God's corrective love; and in the light,
Soul--ripening, of his law, prepared for this.
To me it seems as I had lived all ages
Since leaving earth; and thou art yet scarce man
Matured; than that more thou wilt never be.

Festus.  It was not, mother, that I knew thy face;
The luminous eclipse that is on it now,
Though it was fair on earth, would have made it strange
Even to one who knew as well as he loved thee.
And if these time--tired eyes ever imaged thine
It was but for a moment, and the sight
Passed; and my life was broken like a line
At the first word;--but my heart cried out in me.

Angel.  Thee knew I well. And now, to earth again;
Go, son; and say to all who once were mine,
I love them, and expect them.

Festus. Blessèd one!
I go.

Angel. I charge thee, Genius, bear him safely.

Genius.  Through light and night and all the powers of air
I have a passport.

Angel. God be with thee, child.

Festus.  Where, Angel, is the spirit induced me here?

Genius.  That spirit is no more here. Behold him gone
Like a spent thunder--cloud which, rolled away,
Bears in its shapes chaotic, visible proof
Of the distracting fires that rent its breast,
Of force self dissipative. Not long can he
Heaven's light--foretaste permitted thee--abide:
Thus eminently, wherein all these exult
From saint to seraph, hierarchies of bliss
For known to all ye angels is the good
God hath eternally decreed to man;
The secrets of perfection, yours; but heaven's
High whispers and intense, the soul of ill
Knows not, nor can know; in the source of light
Sightless; and, means for ends misplacing ever,
Of his own acts incomprehensive, he
Glutting life's passionatest desires at full,
And instigating soul's vainest aims, misdeems
To cause thee, spirit of earth!--God lost,--thyself
Forfeit to him; albeit God all o'errules,
To his own great ends, in manner none forecasts.
But this know; and, as spherelet nigh the sun,
Revels in lightful secresy, my soul
With heavenly insight penetrate, perceives,
Down broadening vistas of futurity, how
Him shall God's Son, divine humanity,
Revisiting misreported hell, endure
To meet, and all his hosts with hope inspire
To earn, repentant, pride subject, heaven's peace,
Pardon and restoration.

Saints. Joyed, we hear.

Genius.  For lo! it is written in the book of God,
Where spirits may learn aforetime what is fate,
In endless prescience of world--winning love,
That as by angel man through woman fell,
Through her shall this first--fallen again too rise;
All life in ultimate perfection linked
By him who chooseth oft--times meanest means
To compass world vast purposes, whereby
God vindicates himself. Nay, thine own sphere,
The first--fruits of the great destruction, earth,
Born of the mother--night of ages, once,
Into a sad and struggling life, at last
Shall be most blessèd, hailed among the worlds.

Angel.  All time, all place is consecrate to God.
Man may do despite, but the ill redounds
Only to him. The world is holy still,
God's fane is unprofaned. Some graceless wretch
Blasphemes a holy sage; what harm? The throat
Filled with scurrility, only, is defiled;
Not seer, nor his pure word. So too, all means
Have majesty, if used of God; all ends
By him who made, ordained, are sanctified.

Genius. Come.

Festus. I feel happier, better, nobler now.

Genius.  See, where now, like a journeying beam of light
From the sun's arched crown she moves, each orblet passed
Enveloping in her shadow aureolewise;
Mark, too where midst those radiant rounds, well--nigh
With spirits elect replete, few void;--in sooth
One only, primary, and its satellite seats,
They welcome her return. How sayest thou, soul?
What seest mid that celestial session?

Festus. I
See where she smiling sits, who, latewhile, here
Me wiseliest counselled: and now points me out
With finger, used God's gracious deeds to trace,
To those who near her sit; that twain serene;
Brow--mitred with aërial gold unwrought;
Who be they?

Genius. That, mankind's great mother; this
His who mankind with loftiest creed enriched
Of divine sonship, in God's spirit renewed,
By virtue; by repentance justified; such
The soul's sole way from earth to God the truth.
And nigh these, she, mother of soul God--chosen,
Life's fine, and last of men; for thou art he.

Festus.  Am I? It is enough. I have seen God.

Genius.  God, and his great idea, the universe,
His one and infinite thought aye being evolved,
Are over us, and about us. Be the one,
Being of beings, as thou hast known, in whom
The spirits finite of all essential spheres,
Progressive and self--purificative, work out
Their everbettering end, God only God,
Worshipped; be the other reverently proved.

Festus. Surely there's rest in heaven.

Guardian Angel. As thou, ere now
Hast seen, the spirits of men, the wise, brave, just,
Daring and charitable, in those strange spheres
The angel of thy satellite crescent showed,
Their guerdon of self--completive perfectness
Taken at God's hand, through dateless terms of time,
Triumphs of passed and future, not without
Toil spiritual achieved and earnest deed;
So here behold how holy is well--won rest;
And how the soul finite, by endless life
Enriched, God crowns, betimes, with ease intense,
And renovative repose. The heart of heaven
This, which in silent movement like the soul's
In spiritual commune with God e'er lives.

God.  Hear heaven; and earth, hear! Not in vain shall all
My prophets, sons of God, through time, have preached
Of justice and heaven's peace with man to come.
Let therefore peace, and charity on earth
Start forth, as from the tender herb the dew,
'Mong all mankind one--minded. Let pure schemes,
Just and benevolent souls of ages gone,
Have nursed, mature; let hopes sincere of all
World--patriots, earth's best spirits for nature's weal,
Fulfil themselves; all godly plans bear fruit
Of laudable profit; freedom and the use
Temperate of all heaven's blessings, with just sense
Of mutual rights, and service due 'mong all,
Brethren; heart--purity; holy life prevail
Most presently earth over.

Festus. Peace, thou saidst,

God. Peace, I say. Be war henceforth reserved
To spiritual ends, and strife of virtuous soul
'Gainst soul ill--willed, 'gainst evil; which not, all life
Create were aimless; such war, war divine,
Emancipative of spirit, as in accord
With fate long uttered, shall the close of things
Terrestrial, mark, decisive, to the amaze
Of all, participant in that final field
Of evil and good. Be thou right strong to bear
Therein thy part.

Festus. Thine, Lord! the cause, the praise.

God.  This contest we remit to man's last race
And generation, that, by choice of good,
Rejected sin, soul purity, preferred
As dear to God whose breath is holiness,
Heaven gives and makes cause common with all souls,
For the good, militant. For the time enough.
Guard--angel, let this soul thy charge to earth
Returned, fate's first--fruits cull.

Guardian Angel. I then may him
Accompany as of old?

God. Thou hadst need.

Guardian Angel. O joy!

God.  Angel, thou knowest both mine intent towards man
And him who types his race, the crownèd end;
Whom failing, thou mayst strengthen to all good;
Whom sin--bound check; whom sinning, see thou show,
With the spirit who tempts so prompt to avile him, hell;
And so with pains premonitory of proof,
His soul chastise, that he the fines may feel
Of obstinate fault and purposeful offence;
Yet thence, revisiting earth, the verity tell
Long lost to man, of justly apportioned doom
In realms whence, self--recuperative, the soul
My diffidently again seek to behold
My face; and rightliest balanced equity
Prove by strict mercy administered, that the heart
Of the broad world may gladden in its God.

Angels.  So from all ill, Lord! aye thou bringest good.

God.  All things are overruled to work mine own
Self--satisfactive ends; Being's boundless good,
And everlasting bliss made one with mine.
For all souls shall be judged, condemned not all;
None, without end. These, by me chosen to prove
To creature mind my sovereign freedom; those,
By virtue's law adjudged and natural light
Of conscious right and wrong, the just, so taught
Of heaven's eternal equity, proclaim
In God and man one common righteousness,
One sole; man justified to God, by sense
Of love's, truth's, piety's, laws innate, obeyed;
Or, violate, self--condemned; and God,--free choice
By will, who gave,--like justified to man.

Festus. O angel, let me welcome thee.

Guardian Angel. Nay, name me.
For by thy lips invoked at morn and eve,
My name I love.

Festus. Return we now?

God. Return!
The day he choosing world--wide power shall think
Men most to serve by ruling and by choice
Of peace infrangible, so ensured as there
Shall patently appear, the day of days,
Earth's angel, angel--guard! will prove to ye both.

Festus.  How vast it seems, this deep abyss of worlds
Below our feet!

Guardian Angel. Stars stranger, nobler still
Than those by thee late visited, we may find.
Wilt sojourn for a time among these worlds,
And test their natures?

Festus. Gladly.

Guardian Angel. Seek we, then,
All rareness and variety these bright globes
Can offer, ere we reach thine orb. Descend.
Now is the age of worlds: another comes.

God.  Know all ye angels, I have so made man
That his original excellence shall defeat
All he hath ill; his inborn goodness, sin
So outweigh finally, his soul shall live
By royal right of virtue in itself,
Immortal, and here reign in heaven with us.
Nor be ye astound, that Evil, by me permit,
By me, unknown to himself, commissioned life
More even than one, imperishable, to loose
From freshly; and who, so acting, deems himself
But by his own vain ends inspired, should feel
False impulse to triumph;--all souls, be sure,
Have their appointed season, and just reward.

Angels.  Even as in one so may it be in all!
Be it ever as thou, Lord, sayst. Thy word is fate.
O haste, ye times when universal man,
All minor creeds abandoned in one faith,
Thee sole shall worship integrally; the eterne,
The personal infinite, the All--One; who makes,
Sustains, comprises all things and redeems.

Archangels.  All are but particles of One divine,
And never can in holy gladness shine,
Till builded all into one common shrine
Which God shall make his temple. As the woe
Each human heart on earth doth undergo,
Shall be the calm immeasurable flow
Of joy, united man in heaven shall know.

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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