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Philip James Bailey (Филип Джеймс Бэйли)

Festus - 11

That aëry lodestone, operant still,
The love of boundless knowledge, leads us down
Deeplier than ever leadline went, to search
The central rayless light we have within,
And learn, that, touched albeit all mysteries, traced
Orb--founding theories sagest, handled fire
Deftliest, unfit, as discontent, to abide
Longwhile by nature's hearth, 'twere better seek
Our proper good in act. Such light to love,
To hope for, strive for, live for, as best shows
Our Maker, fellow labourer for man's good,
Working, within us charitably; and shows,
To souls, high aimed, who others claim to serve
Supremely, they themselves need, lowliest rule,
Life makes most blessed. Even science finds in God
Its ultimate form, the unknown; all utmost truth
To inmost faith, responds; all heavens externe.
Arched, sphere o'er sphere conformably, to soul's
Interior lines. It is from research like this,
True aspiration riseth.
Earth--The Centre.
Lucifer and Festus.
Lucifer. Behold us in the fire--crypts of the world;
Through seas and buried mountains, tomb--like tracts
Fit to receive Death's skeleton when he is dead;
Through earthquakes and the once proud structured bones
Of earthquake--swallowed cities, have we wormed,
Down to fire's ever--burning forge, whence breathes
That fluent life--heat, penetrative, which clothes
Itself in lightnings, scaping hence through air,
And pierces to the last and loftiest pore
Of earth's snow--mantled mountains. In these vaults
Are hidden the archives of the universe.
There screened, in awful and omnipotent ease,
Nature, the delegate of God, brings forth
Her everlasting elements; and here,
The reverend ashes of all ages gone
See, finally inurned.
Festus. All solid now
Was fluid once, air, water, fire, or some
Vast, permeant, element; communal, all in one;
As in this focal, world--evolving heat;
Moisture all mothering; or the vacuous power
We are based on, I must deem.
Lucifer. The original
Of all things, all existence being one
Derivative whole, is one. The differences
Seen, show diverse but to the finite mind.
Festus. This marble--walled immensity, overroofed
With pendant mountains glittering, awes my soul.
Lucifer. Here mayst thou lay thine hand on nature's heart,
And feel its thousand yearèd throbbings beat,
As through a sea--strait, till to beat, it cease.
High overhead, and deep below our feet,
The sea's broad thunder booms, scarce heard; bowed round,
Yon arches, like to suspended continents
Of starry matter burning inwardly, stand:
Hard by, earth's gleaming axle sleeps, unmoved,
All movement centering.
Festus. Age, here, on age
Lie heaped like withered leaves. And must it end?
Lucifer. All here hath holden fellowship with gods,
With eldest time and primal matter, space,
Stars, air, and all inherent fire, the abyss
Unluminous, chaos, night. These rocks retain
Proof of those times, earth's ancient youth, when she
With heaven had holy bridals; royal gods,
If turbulent, combative, discontent, nathless
Their bright, immortal issue; when, too, lived,
Prehuman and heroic, the broad--eyed race,
Whose science, as these rocks the seas sustain,
Hath formed the base of the world's fluctuous lore;
When, too, by mountainous travail, human thought
Sought to obtain the untouched heavens, by right
Of lineal virtue; when the artful powers,
Forecounsel and experience, by meet aid
Of wisdom, teachers of all social good,
With godhead strove; and gloriously they failed;
In failure half successful; when even men's
Minds were as continents vast, and not, as now,
Seed--plots minute, with acres, here and there,
Of brains untilled.
Festus. Minds still which know by proof
What those could but assume, that all these rocks,
Hand--wrought of One, these solid fires; the air
Nebulous, commixed with starry spore, and earth's
Waters, with unborn continents heavy, all
The rude original seen of nature, here,
Being ordered, now, informed, all procreant mate
Of heaven; these crude products of matter, once
Like firstlings on the axis, altarwise,
Laid, of the globe, earth's testimony still stand
To her creative God; who, in the heart
Of nethermost darkness, his miraculous name
Scores legible, as upon the sun's broad brow,
Mid blaze chaotic, and liquescent plains
Of ever--seething flame, where sink and rise
Alp--blebs of fire, vast, vagrant; name which reads
Perfection infinite in all ways; all names
Other of gods, obliterates.
Lucifer. How but one?
Each star, canst tell? may its divinity boast.
Festus. God's hand hath scooped the hollow of this world;
His, sole, who all doth, and remembereth all!
Or aim, or deed; nor, like an atomie dropped
Of meteoric light, some star, in's lightning rush,
Hath brushed off, which is quenched in last night's dew;
Nor as, when fiery monarch, ireful, starts
In jewelled arms war--wards, a sudden gem
Falls, and, 'neath tramp of shouting hosts, is lost
Am I, even I, forgotten. Ere blended, here,
As in a bowl, the spheral rudiments lay;
Whence all elaborated in turn, and raised
From shining star--seed into embryon orbs
And germs gigantic of the universe;
Each mighty change a thought of God, each thought
An act substantial of perfective power,
Leaving at last prolific earth life--stored
With light impregned, I know right well 'twas planned
For me, for man, his favourite. Even here,
These blasts that tear tempestuous from the deep;
These throes that rack the centre, nature's wail
For her directing lord, this many an age
Missed from her midst, these elemental hells,
Conflictive, earth's upheavals, founts of fire,
And island vomitings, fail the sense to quench
Of divine wardship; nought permitting he,
Though for a time self--hidden, and changeless laws,
In mutable types, through ever--varying forms,
Dispensing, proof of one continuous end,
To happen his beloved of harm; and this
As holiest truth I hold. Didst bring me hither,
Trusting to lose God's track?
Lucifer. Nay, but to show
How things begin to end. Why, then, e'er made?
This ball so rolled and rounded, melts away
Even now, to its constituent atoms. See,
This weary axis wavers in its end;
It will sometime snap.
Festus. Though here were posited
All secrets of existence, natural those,
These supernatural, dwell not here would I,
Not science' founts profoundest even, to drain.
I long to know again the fresh green earth,
Breeze life--breath'd; sea, and sacred stars; and feel
In active comity with the world's wide powers.
These recollections crowd upon my mind,
Like constellations on the evening skies,
And will not be forbidden. Oh! let us leave.
Lucifer. Aught that reminds an exile of his home
Is surely pleasant. I, friend, am content.
Festus. I cannot be content with less than heaven;
Living, and comprehensive of all life.
Thee, universal heaven, celestial all;
Thee, sacred seat of intellective time;
Field of the soul's best wisdom: home of truth,
Star--throned; by whom, and old oracular night,
Our spirit compeers in every orb are taught;
Who can but love? To me, by night, by day,
Thou art, thou must be reverend, world--whole sphere!
Whether the sun all light thee, or the moon,
In clouds embayed, mid astral islets, air
With beauty inundate; or some god--star, sole,
As a great drop of light, shed tremulously
Out of her full flowing urn; yea, tearlike, fallen
From her, Night's eye, o'er nature's tome, as she
Reads, softening so our present fates; or when
In radiant thousands, each star reigns, unshared
His royalty, and leaderless, uncontrast
With the light their light is lost in, sons of fire,
Arch element of the heavens; thee, even, when storm
And rack, our vision from thy threshold bar,
More love I, thinking upon the splendid calm
Which bounds the deadly fever of these days,
The higher, holier, spiritual heaven wherein
Soul, predisposed to expatiate, shall start forth
On joy's relapseless course; and such progress
As counts the infinite only in its midst,
Felicitously partake. Come, let us rise;
Nay, quit this world, within whose heartstrings still
I know me encoiled. The deeplier I descend,
The higher rise, the nearer seem I God.
Lucifer. It is knowledge only makes thee near to aught,
Whence ignorance most eloigns. These rocks, which hold
Time's cavernous footsteps printed in raw fire
Detain thee, then, no more?
Festus. I would be gone.
The world hath made such comet--like advance,
Lately on science, men may almost hope
Before it die of sheer decay, to learn
Something about their infancy, as this day
I have taught me of earth's original.
Lucifer. True; but me
This troubles not.
Festus. Were all earth's mountain chains
To utter fire at once, what a grand show
Of fireworks for our neighbour moon.
Lucifer. The passed
Hath seen such sights; and I; seen grander. Rise!
Let us ascend.
Festus But not through the charred throat
Of an extinct volcano.
Lucifer. This way; down;
So thread we at once the world--bead.
Festus. Haste, away.
Life is too brittle, time too brief to waste.

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

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