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Philip James Bailey (Филип Джеймс Бэйли)

Festus - 17

But dimmed,
Drowned, lost all this, like an eye in tears of mirth,
Like a star setting in a twinkling sea,
Mid revellings, song and dance, wild glee and wine,
Where beauty's orb rules, lady of the hour,
More astral than terrene, o'er lovelorn youth,
And damsels on whose lily necks the blue
Veins branch themselves in hidden luxury,
Hues of the heaven they seem to have vanished from.
By new loves lured, by life's sheer levities, swift
The tempted takes his leap, as cloud--lapped stream
Vaults o'er its crags, self--dissipative in air,
To end in watery dust without all end;
Mere spells the spirit's eye to daze 'gainst needs
Of nobler being; mock substitutes for aims
Truth asks; but saddened penitently, at close,
By sweet remembrance of the sainted soul
Once loved, aye hallowed; still a force on high,
Heart--purifying. Oh! still in scenes like this;
Youth lingers longest, drawing out his time
As goldbeater his wire attenuates, till
It would reach round earth, and be of no use, then.
Party and Entertainment.--Garden: Fountains.
Festus, Helen, Lucifer, Charles, Lucy, and Others.
Festus. My Helen, let us rest awhile,
For most I love thy calmer smile;
We'll not be missed from you gay throng,
They dance so eagerly and long;
And were one half to go away,
I'll bet the rest would scarce perceive it.
Helen. With thee I either go or stay,
Prepared, the same, to like or leave it;
These two perhaps will take our places;
They seem to stand with longing faces.
Festus. Then sit we, love, and sip with me,
And I will teach thyself to thee.
Thy nature is so pure and fine,
'Tis most like wine;
Thy blood, which blushes through each vein,
Rosy champagne;
And the fair skin which o'er it grows,
Bright as its snows.
Thy wit, which thou dost work so well
Is like cool moselle;
Like madeira, bright and warm,
Is thy smile's charm;
Claret's glory hath thine eye,
Or mine must lie;
But nought can like thy lips possess
And now that thou'rt divinely merry,
I'll kiss and call thee sparkling sherry.
Helen. I sometimes dream that thou wilt leave me
Without thy love, even me, lonely;
And oft I think, though oft it grieve me,
That I am not thy one love only:
But I shall alway love thee till
This heart like earth in death, stand still.
Festus. I love thee, and will leave thee never,
Until my soul leave life for ever.
If earth can from her children run,
And leave the seasons, leave the sun;
If yonder stars can leave the sky,
Bright truants from their home in heaven;
Immortals who deserve to die,
Were death not too good to be given;
If heaven can leave and live from God,
And man tread off his cradle clod;
If God can leave the world he sowed,
Right in the heart of space to fade;
Soul, earth, star, heaven, man, world, and God
May part--not I from thee, sweet maid.
Ah, see again my favourite dance,
See the wavelike line advance;
And now in circles break,
Like raindrops on a lake:
Now it opens, now it closes,
Like a wreath dropping into roses.
Helen. It is a lovely scene,
Fair as aught on earth;
And we feel, when it hath been,
At heart a dearth;
As from the breaking up of some bright dream;
The failing of a fountain's spray--topped stream.
Will. Ladies--your leave--we'll choose a queen
To rule this fair and festive scene.
Charles. And it were best to choose by lot,
So none can hold herself forgot.
They draw lots: it falls to Helen.
Festus. I knew, my love, how this would be;
I knew that fate must favour thee.
All. Lady fair! we throne thee queen:
Be thy sway as thou hast been--
Light, and lovely, and serene.
Festus. Here, wear this wreath. No ruder crown
Should deck that dazzling brow;
Or ask yon halo from the moon--
'Twould well beseem thee now.
I crown thee, love; I crown thee, love;
I crown thee queen of me;
And oh! but I am a happy land,
And a loyal land to thee.
I crown thee, love; I crown thee, love;
Thou art queen in thine own right:
Feel! my heart is as full as a town of joy;
Look! I've crowded mine eyes with light.
I crown thee, love; I crown thee, love;
Thou art queen by right divine;
And thy love shall set, neither night nor day,
O'er this subject heart of mine.
I crown thee, love; I crown thee, love;
Thou art queen by the right of the strong;
And thou didst but win where thou mightst have slain,
Or have bounden in thraldom long.
I crown thee, love; I crown thee, love;
Thou art my queen for aye;
As the moon doth queen the night, my love;
As the night doth crown the day.
I crown thee, love; I crown thee, love;
Queen of the brave and free;
For I'm brave to all beauty but thine, my love;
And free to all beauty by thee.
Helen. Here, in this court of pleasure, blessed to reign,
If not the loveliest, where all are fair,
We still, one hour, our royalty retain,
To out--queen all in kindness and in care.
Love, beauty, honour, bravery, and wit;
Was ever queen served by such noble slaves?
The peerage of the heart--for heaven's court fit:
We'll dream no more that earth hath ills or graves.
With mirth and melody, and love we reign:
Begin we, then, our sweet and pleasurous sway;
And here, though light, so strong is beauty's chain,
That none shall know how blindly they obey.
We have but to lay on one light command;
That all shall do the most what best they love;
And Pleasure hath her punishments at hand
For all who will not pleasure's rule approve.
But no! there's none of us can disobey,
Since, by our one command, we free ye thus;
And, as our powers must on your pleasures stay--
Support--and you will reign along with us.
Festus. Ha! Lucifer! How now?
Lucifer. I come in sooth to keep my vow.
Festus. Thy vow?
Lucifer. To revel in earth's pleasures,
And tire down mirth in her own measures.
Festus. Go thy ways: I shrink and tremble
To think how deep thou canst dissemble;
For who would dream that in yon breast
The heart of hell was burning?
Or deem that strange and listless guest
Some priceless spirit earning?
I hear methinks from every footstep rise
A trampled spirit's smothered cries.
Lucifer. But for yon jocund wight, I fear,
--Just in the nick of time we met,
I stopped, and asked him where you were;
His kindness I shall ne'er forget--
Small chance had I of being here.
I think it quite ungenerous in you,
At such gay gatherings as the present,
My once--loved converse to eschew,
Just as I meant to make things pleasant.
It's rather hard when one has called
The club, to be yourself black--balled.
Charles. Fest, engage fair Marian's hand.
Festus. Pass me; she is free no less
Than I, who by my queen will stand;
May it please her loveliness!
Helen. Festus, we know the love, and see,
Which was with Marian and thee,
Our early friend, once Clara called,
But now from us long while estranged;
In all, except her hopeless love
For thee, her faithless lover, changed;
And we would see ye once again,
I nothing doubt, resume--
Marian. In vain,
I wish it not. I do but strive,
A love though buried still alive,
To hallow with the dearer name
That sheltered its first flickering flame.
He seeks another. Though he range
From heart to heart, not I shall change.
Love veered unbidden; he yet may learn
Unsought, unsolaced, to return.
Helen. I hold him not against his will;
Thine he may be, thine only still.
Lucifer. Well--rooted plants soon fruit. A lighter love
Will lighter instincts in him move.
These joys, these raptures of mere sense,
Senseless, enjoyment's pure pretence,
Must surely cloud all innocence.
And as he gains in knowledge high
Of spirit, nature, destiny,
Faith, fostered by yon faithful soul,
So ripe in love, so rich in dole,
Faith must as surely in him die.
Festus. I marvel at myself. There seems
A power within me bids me claim
A freedom like space--filling dreams,
Which are, and are not, but in name;
A fateful freedom, all the same;
Wherefrom I vainly try to shape
Some way of conquest or escape.
Lucifer. My schemes succeed as soon as planned;
Needs must, if so and so but drive;
When once you know your neighbour's hand,
It's wondrous how your game will thrive.
Charles. Of freedom we'll have no abuse.
Dance with your royal fair.
Lucifer. Make no excuse.
Festus. Rebellion pleases most, though little use.
I will not dance to--night again,
Though bid by all the queens that reign.
Helen. What, Festus! treason and disloyalty
Already to our gentle royalty?
Festus. No--I was wrong--but to forgive
Be thy sublime prerogative!
Helen. Most amply, then, I pardon thee;
In proof whereof, come dance with me.
A dance.
Laurence. How sweetly Marian sweeps along;
Her step is music, and her voice is song.
Silver--sandalled foot! how blest
To bear the breathing heaven above,
Which on thee, Atlas--like, doth rest,
And round thee move.
Ah! that sweet little foot: I swear
I could kneel down and kiss it there.
I should not mind if she were Pope;
I would change my faith.
Charles. Works, too, we hope.
Laurence. Ah! smile on me again with that sweet smile,
Which could from heaven my soul to thee beguile;
As I mine eye would turn from awful skies
To hail the child of sun and storm arise;
Or, from eve's holy azure, to the star
Which beams and becks the spirit from afar;
For fair as yon star--wreath which high doth shine,
And worthy but to deck a brow like thine;
Pure as the light from orbs which ne'er
Hath blessed us yet in this far sphere;
As eyes of seraphs lift alone,
Through ages on the holy throne;
So bright, so fair, so free from guile,
And freshening to my heart thy smile;
Ay, passing all things here, and all above,
To me, thy look of beauty, truth, and love.
Marian. Pray, heed me not. 'Twere vain to me
To pay thy heart's lost fealty.
Harry. Thy friend hath led his lady out.
Festus. He looks most wickedly devout.
Fanny. When introduced, he said he knew her,
And had been long devoted to her.
Emma. Indeed--but he is too gallant,
And serves me far more than I want.
He vows that he could worship me--
Why--look! he is now upon his knee!
Lucifer. I quaff to thee this cup of wine,
And would, though men had nought but brine;
E'en the brine of their own tears,
To cool those lying lips of theirs;
And were it all one molten pearl,
I would drain it to thee, girl;
Ay, though each drop were worth of gold
Too many pieces to be sold;
And though for each I drank to thee,
Fate add an age of misery:
For thou canst conjure up my spirit
To aught immortals may inherit;
To good or evil, woe or weal--
To all that fiends or angels feel;
And wert thou to perdition given,
I'd join thee in the scorn of heaven!
Emma. Oh fy! to only think of such a fate!
Lucifer. Better than not to think on't till too late.
They'd not believe me, Festus, if I told them,
That hell, and all its hosts, this hour behold them.
Festus. Scarcely; that demon here again!
But though my heart burst in the strain
I will be happy might and main!
So wreathe my brow with flowers,
And pour me purple wine,
And make the merry hours
Dance, dance with glee like thine.
While thus enraptured, I and thou,
Love crowns the heart, as flowers the brow.
The rosy garland twine
Around the noble bowl,
Like laughing loves that shine
Upon the generous soul;
Be mine, dear maid, the loves, and thou
Shalt ever bosom them as now.
Then plunge the blushing wreath
Deep in the ruddy wine;
As the love of thee till death
Is deep in heart of mine;
While both are blooming on my brow
I cannot be more blessed than now.
Lucifer. Thou talkst of hearts in style to me quite fresh:
The human heart's about a pound of flesh.
Festus. Forgive him, love, and aught he says.
Helen. What is that trickling down thy face?
Festus. Oh, love, that is only wine,
From the wreath which thou didst twine;
And, casting in the bowl, I bound,
For coolness' sake, my temples round.
Helen. I thought 'twas a thorn which was tearing thy brow;
And if it were only a rose--thorn was tearing,
Why, whether of gold or of roses, as now,
A crown, if it hurt us, is hardly worth wearing.
Lucy. From what fair maid hadst thou that flower?
It came not from my wreath nor me.
Charles. Love lives in thee as in a bower,
And sure this must have dropped from thee;
From thy lip, or from thy cheek:
See, its sister blushes speak.
Nay, never harm the harmless rose,
Though given by a stranger maid;
'Tis sad enough to feel that flower
Feels it must fade.
And trouble not the transient love,
Though by another's side I sigh;
It is enough to feel the flame
Flicker and die.
And thou to me art flame and flower,
Of rosier body, brighter breath;
But softer, warmer than the truth--
As sleep than death.
Festus. The dead of night: earth seems but seeming;
The soul seems but a something dreaming.
The bird is dreaming in its nest,
Of song, and sky, and loved one's breast;
The lap--dog dreams, as round he lies,
In moonshine, of his mistress' eyes:
The steed is dreaming, in his stall,
Of one long breathless leap and fall:
The hawk hath dreamed him thrice of wings
Wide as the skies he may not cleave;
But waking, feels them clipped, and clings
Mad to the perch 'twere mad to leave:
The child is dreaming of its toys;
The murderer, of calm home joys;
The weak are dreaming endless fears;
The proud of how their pride appears;
The poor enthusiast who dies,
Of his life--dreams the sacrifice,
Sees, as enthusiast only can,
The truth that made him more than man;
And hears once more, in visioned trance,
That voice commanding to advance,
Where wealth is gained--love, wisdom won,
Or deeds of danger dared and done,
The mother dreameth of her child;
The maid of him who hath beguiled;
The youth of her he loves too well;
The good of God; the ill of hell;
Who live of death; of life who die;
The dead of immortality.
The earth is dreaming back her youth;
Hell never dreams, for woe is truth;
And heaven is dreaming o'er her prime,
Long ere the morning stars of time;
And dream of heaven alone can I,
My lovely one, when thou art nigh.
Helen. Let some one sing. Love, mirth, and song,
The graces of this life of ours,
Go ever hand in hand along,
And ask alike each other's powers.
Lucy sings.
For every leaf the loveliest flower
Which beauty sighs for from her bower;
For every star a drop of dew;
For every sun a sky of blue;
For every heart a heart as true.
For every tear by pity shed
Upon a fellow--sufferer's head,
Oh! be a crown of glory given;
Such crowns as saints to gain have striven,
Such crowns as seraphs wear in heaven.
For all who toil at honest fame,
A proud, a pure, a deathless name;
For all who love, who loving bless,
Be life one long, kind, close caress;
Be life all love, all happiness.
Will. How can we better time employ,
Than celebrate, with every breath,
Through hours that laugh themselves to death,
This bridal feast of love and joy?
Festus. That song reminds me,--but it may not be;
No! I am sailing on another sea.
Lucifer. Tell me what's the chiefest pleasure
In this world's high heapèd measure!
All. Power--beauty--love--wealth--wine!
Lucifer. All different votes!
Fanny. Come, Frederic--thine?
What may thy joy--judgment be?
Frederic. I scarce know how to answer thee;
Each, apart, too soon will tire;
Altogether slake desire.
So ask not of me the one chief joy of earth,
For that I'm unable to say;
But here is a wreath which will lose its chief worth,
If ye pluck but one flower away.
Then these are the joys which should never dispart--
The joys which are dearest to me:
As the song, and the dance, and the laugh of the heart,
Thou, girl, and the goblet, be.
Lucifer. Oh, excellent! the truth is clear;
The one opinion, too, I love to hear.
Helen. Is this a queen's fate--to be left alone?
I wish another had the throne.
Festus! why art thou not here,
Beside thy liege and lady dear?
Festus. My thoughts are happier oft than I,
For they are ever, love, with thee;
And thine, I know, as frequent fly
O'er all that severs us, to me:
Like rays of stars, that meet in space,
And mingle in a bright embrace.
Never load thy locks with flowers,
For thy cheek hath a richer flush;
And than wine, or the sunset hour,
Or the ripe yew--berry's blush.
Never braid thy brow with lights,
Like the sun, on his golden way
To the neck and the locks of night,
From the forehead fair of day.
Never star thy hand with stones,
For, for every dead light there,
Is a living glory gone,
Than the brilliant far more fair.
Nay, nay; wear thy buds, braids, gems;
Let the lovely never part;
Thou alone canst rival them,
Or in nature, or in art.
Be not sad;--thou shalt not be:
Why wilt mourn, love, when with me?
One tear that in thy eye could start
Could wash all purpose from my heart
But that of loving thee;
If I could ever think to wrong
A love so riverlike, deep, pure, and long.
Helen. I cast mine eyes around, and feel
There is a blessing wanting;
Too soon our hearts the truth reveal,
That joy is disenchanting.
Festus. I am a wizard, love; and I
A new enchantment will supply;
And the charm of thine own smile
Shall thine own heart of grief beguile.
Smile, I do command thee, rise
From the bright depths of those eyes;
By the bloom wherein thou dwellest,
As in a rose--leaved nest;
By the pleasure which thou tellest,
And the bosom which thou swellest,
I bid thee rise from rest;
By the rapture which thou causest,
And the bliss while e'er thou pausest,
Obey my high behest.
Helen. Dread magician! cease thy spell;
It hath wrought both quick and well.
Festus. Ah! thou hast dissolved the charm;
Ah! thou hast outstepped the ring;
Who shall answer for the harm
Beauty on herself will bring?
Come, I will conjure up again that smile--
The scarce departed spirit. There it is!
Settling and hovering round thy lips the while,
Like some bright angel o'er the gates of bliss.
And I could sit and set that rose--bright smile,
Until it seemed to grow immortal there;
A something abstract even of all beauty,
As though 'twere in the eye or in the air.
Ah! never may a heavier shadow rest
Than thine own ringlets on that brow so fair;
Nor sob, nor sorrow, shake the perfect breast
Which looks for love, as doth for death despair.
And now the smile, the sigh, the blush, the tear,
Lo! all the elements of love are here.
Nay, wither not, with doubt's mistrustful sigh,
Love's tender, ah! too quickly perishing leaf:
Nor let one bring tearlet beauty's eye
O'ercloud with life embittering grief.
Oh! weep not, sigh not; woe, nor mortal wrath,
Should taint with sad defect a soul like thine;
Say, is it given the rule--less lightning's path
Earth--blinding, e'er to strike the stars divine?
Sing, then, while thy lover sips,
And hear the truth that wine discloses;
Music lives within thy lips
Like a nightingale in roses.
Helen sings.
Oh! love is like the rose,
And a month it may not see,
Ere it withers where it grows--
I loved thee from afar;
Oh! my heart was lift to thee,
Like a glass up to a star--
Thine eye was glassed in mine,
As the moon is in the sea:
And its shine was on the brine--
The rose hath lost its red;
And the star is in the sea;
And the briny tear is shed--
Festus. What the stars are to the night, my love,
What its pearls are to the sea;
What the dew is to the day, my love,
Thy beauty is to me.
Helen. I am but here the under--queen of beauty,
For yonder hangs the likeness of the goddess;
And so to worship her is our first duty.
The heavenly minds of old first taught the heavenly bodies
Were to be worshipped; and the idolatry
Holds to this hour; though, Beauty! but of thine.
I am thy priestess, and will worship thee,
With all this brave and lovely train of mine;
Lo! we all kneel to thee before thy pictured shrine.
Yes--there, thou goddess of the heart,
Immortal beauty, there!
Thou glory of Jove's free--love skies,
E'en like thyself too fair,
Too bright, too sweet for mortal eyes,
For earthly hearts too strong;
Thy golden girdle liftst and drawest
The heavens and earth along.
Oh! thou art as the cloudless moon,
Undimmed and unarrayed;
No robe hast thou, no crown save yon--
Goddess! thy long locks' soft and sunbright braid.
And there's thy son, Love--beauty's child--
World--known for strangest powers;
Boy--god! thy place is blest o'er all;
Smil'st thou at thoughts of ours?
And there, by thy luxurious side,
The queen of heaven and Jove
Stands; and the deep delirious draught
Drinks, from thy looks, of love,
And lips, which oft have kissed away
The thunders from his brow,
Who ruled, men say, the world of worlds,
As God our God rules now.
And thou art yet as great o'er this
As erst o'er olden sky;
Of all heaven's darkened deities,
The last live light on high.
God after god hath left thee lone,
Which lived on human breath;
When prayers were breathed to them no more,
The false ones pined to death.
But in the service of young hearts
To loveliness and love,
Live thou shalt while yon wandering world,
Named unto thee, shall move.
No fabled dream art thou: all god,
Our souls acknowledge thee;
For what would life, from love, be worth,
Or love from beauty be?
Come, universal beauty, then,
Thou apple of God's eye,
To and through which all things were made,
Things deathless--things that die.
Oh! lighten, live before us there;
Leap in yon lovely form,
And give a soul. She comes! It breathes,
So bright--so sweet--so warm.
Our sacrifice is over; let us rise;
For we have worshipped acceptably here;
And let our glowing hearts and glimmering eyes,
O'erstrained with gazing on thy light too near,
Prove that our worship, goddess, was sincere.
Festus. I read that we are answered. The soft air
Doubles its sweetness; and the fainting flowers,
Down hanging on the walls in wreaths so fair,
Bud forth afresh, as in their birth--day bowers.
Dew--laden, as oppressed with love and shame,
The rose--bud drops upon the lily's breast;
Brighter the wine, the lamps have softer flame;
Thy kiss flows freelier than the grape first pressed.
Life lightly lies on us, as in time's first hours,
Olympian, when the immortals went and came,
And skies crystalline heaven and earth both blessed.
Will. A dance, a dance!
Helen. Let us remain.
Festus. We will not tempt your sport again.
Helen. Behold where Marian sits alone,
The dance all sweeping round,
Like to some goddess hewn in stone,
With blooming garlands bound.
Festus. Tell me, Marian, what those eyes
Can discover in the skies,
Whereon thou gazest with such ecstasies?
Marian. For earth my soul hath lost all love,
But heaven still loves and watches o'er me;
Why should I not, then, look above,
And pass, and pity all before me?
Festus. Oh! if yon worlds that shine o'er this,
Have more of joy--of passion less--
I would not change earth's chequered bliss
For thrice the joy those orbs possess;
Which seem, so strange their nature is,
Faint with excess of happiness.
Marian. Thy heart with others hath its rest,
And it shall wake with me;
And if within another breast
That heart hath made itself a nest,
Mine is no more for thee.
Heart--breaker, go! I cannot choose
But love thee, and thy love refuse;
And if my brow grow lined while young,
And youth fly cheated from my cheek,
'Tis that there lies below my tongue
A word I will not speak:
For I would rather die than deem
Thou art not the glory thou didst seem.
But if engirt by flood or fire,
Who would live that could expire?
Who would not dream, and dreaming die,
If to wake were misery?
Festus. Whose woes are like to my woes? What is madness?
The mind exalted to a sense of ill
Soon sinks beyond it into utter sadness,
And sees its grief before it like a hill.
Oh! I have suffered till my brain became
Distinct with woe, as is the skeleton leaf
Whose green hath fretted off its fibrous frame,
And bare to our immortality of grief.
Deep in my heart there lies, as in truth's well,
The image of thy soul;
But ah! that fountain once so sweet, by spell
Of power is sealed, beyond my will's control.
Marian. Like the light line that laughter leaves
One moment on a bright young brow,
So truth is lost ere love believes
There can be aught save truth below.
Festus. But as the eye aye brightlier beams
For every fall the lid lets on it,
So oft the fond heart happier dreams
For the soft cheats love puts upon it.
Marian. I never dreamed of wretchedness;
I thought to love meant but to bless.
Festus. It once was bliss to me to watch
Thy passing smile, and sit and catch
The sweet contagion of thy breath--
For love is catching--from such teeth;
Delicate little pearl--white wedges,
All transparent at the edges.
Marian. False flatterer, cease.
Festus. It is my fate
To love, and make who love me hate.
Marian. No! 'tis to sue--to gain--deceive--
To tire of--to neglect--and leave:
The desolation of the soul
Is what I feel;
A sense of lostness that leaves death
But little to reveal;
For death is nothing but the thought
Of something being again nought.
Helen. Cease, lady, cease those aching sighs,
Which shake the tear--drops from thine eyes,
As morning wind, with wing fresh wet,
Shakes dew out of the violet.
Forgive me if the love once thine
Hath changed itself unsought to me;
I did not tempt it from thy heart,
I planned no treason against thee;
And soon, perchance, 'twill be my part
As thou now art, to be.
Marian. I blame no heart, no love, no fate;
And I have nothing to forgive:
I wish for nought, repent of nought,
Regret nought but to live.
Helen. Nay, sing; it will relieve thy heart.
Marian. I cannot sing a mirthful strain;
And feel too much to act my part,
E'en of an ebbing vein.
Festus. Our hearts are not in our own hands;
Why wilt thou make me say
I cannot love as once I loved?
Marian. Hear!--'tis for this I stay--
To say we part--for ever part;
But oh! how wide the line
Between thy Marian's bursting heart,
And that proud heart of thine.
And thou wilt wander here and there,
Ever the gay and free;
To other maids wilt fondly swear,
As thou hast sworn to me;
And I--oh! I shall but retire
Into my grief alone;
And kindle there the hidden fire,
That burns, that wastes unknown.
And love and life shall find their tomb
In that sepulchral flame:
Be happy--none shall know for whom--
I will not dream thy name.
Festus. As sings the swan with parting breath,
So I to thee;
While love is leaving--worse than life--
Speak not, nor think thou any ill of me,
The son of destiny, the crown of fate,
The pen of power which writes earth's future state,
If thou wouldst not die soon, and wretchedly,
Oppressed with sense of passed felicity;
Passed yet perchance to dawn again on thee.
Behold me bound beneath the threefold spell,
Which heaven hath laid upon me, earth, and hell.
It may be that I love thee even now
More than my tortured spirit dare avow;
It may be that the clouds which dim my gaze,
Though rich with roseate gold, are full of scath,
And may disperse 'neath thy soul's purer rays;
But now I cannot waver on my path;
Nor condescend the world to undeceive,
Which doth delight in error and believe.
Time will unfold whate'er we have of truth,
As ripening years the greener growth of youth.
Thus then, farewell, dear maiden, ere I go;
Thus dearly have I earned my rightful woe.
Oh! if we e'er have loved, lady,
We must forego it now;
Though sore the heart be moved, lady,
When bound to break its vow.
I'll always think on thee,
And thou sometimes--on whom, lady?
And yet those thoughts must be
Like flowers flung on the tomb, lady.
Then think that I am blest, lady,
Though aye for thee I sigh;
In peace and beauty rest, lady,
Nor mourn, and mourn, as I.
From one we love to part, lady,
Is harder than to die;
I see it by thy heart, lady,
I feel it by thine eye.
Thy lightest look can tell
Thy heaviest thought to me, lady;
Oh! I have loved thee well,
But well seems ill with thee, lady!
Though sore the heart be moved, lady,
When bound to break its vow.
Yet if we ever loved, lady,
We must forego it now.
Marian. Whate'er thou dost, where'er thou goest,
My heart is only thine, thou knowest.
Lucifer. Come, I must separate you two:
Such wretchedness will never do.
The little cloud of grief which just appears,
If left to spread, will drown us all in tears.
Emma. Oblige us, pray, then, with a song.
Charles. I'm sure he has a singing face.
Will. At church I heard him loud and long.
Lucifer. Pardon--but you are doubly wrong.
Helen. Obey, I beg. Here--give him place.
Lucifer. I have not sung for ages, mind:
So you must take me as you find.
This is a song supposed of one--
A fallen spirit--name unknown--
Fettered upon his fiery throne--
Calling on his once angel--love,
Who still remaineth true above.
Thou hast more music in thy voice
Than to the spheres is given,
And more temptations on thy lips
Than lost the angels heaven.
Thou hast more brightness in thine eyes
Than all the stars which burn,
More dazzling art thou than the throne
We fallen dared to spurn.
Go search through heaven--the sweetest smile
That lightens there is thine;
And through hell's burning darkness breaks
No frown so fell as mine.
One smile--'twill light, one tear--'twill cool;
These will be more to me
Than all the wealth of all the worlds,
Or boundless power could be.
Helen. Entreat him, pray, to sing again.
Lucifer. Any thing any one desires.
Festus. Your loveliness hath but to deign
To will, and he'll do all that will requires.
Lucifer sings.
Oh! many a cloud
Hath lift its wing;
And many a leaf
Hath clad the spring;
But there shall be thrice
The leaf and cloud,
And thrice shall the world
Have worn her shroud;
Ere there's any like thee,
But where thou wilt be.
Oh! many a storm
Hath drenched the sun;
And many a stream
To sea hath run;
But there shall be thrice
The storm and stream,
Ere there's any like thee,
But in angel's dream;
Or in look, or in love,
But in heaven above.
Lucy. What is love? Oh! I wonder so:
Do tell me--who pretends to know?
Frank. Ask not of me, love, what is love!
Ask what is good of God above;
Ask of the great sun what is light;
Ask what is darkness of the night;
Ask sin of what may be forgiven;
Ask what is happiness of heaven;
Ask what is folly of the crowd;
Ask what is fashion of the shroud;
Ask what is sweetness of thy kiss;
As of thyself what beauty is;
And if they each should answer, I!
Let me, too, join them with a sigh.
Oh! let me pray my life may prove,
When thus, with thee, that I am love.
Festus. I cannot love as I have loved,
And yet I know not why;
It is the one great woe of life
To feel all feeling die:
And one by one the heartstrings snap
As age comes on so chill:
And hope seems left that hope may cease,
And all will soon be still.
And the strong passions, like to storms,
Soon rage themselves to rest;
Or leave a desolated calm,
A worn and wasted breast;
A heart that like the Geyser spring,
Amidst its bosomed snows,
May shrink, not rest--but with its blood
Boils even in repose.
And yet the things one might have loved
Remain as they have been;
Truth ever lovely, and one heart
Still sacred and serene;
But lower, less, and grosser things
Eclipse the world--like mind,
And leave their cold dark shadow where
Most to the light inclined.
And then it ends as it began,
The orbit of our race,
In pains and tears, and fears of life,
And the new dwelling place.
From life to death, from death to life,
We hurry round to God;
And leave behind us nothing but
The path that we have trod.
Helen. In vain I try to lure thy heart
From grief to mirth;
It were as easy to ward off
Night from the earth.
Festus. Fill! I'll drink it till I die--
Helen's lip and Helen's eye!
An eye which outsparkles
The beads of the wine,
With a hue which outdarkles
The deeps where they shine.
Come! with that lightly flushing brow,
And darkly splendid eye,
And white and wavy arms which now
Like snow--wreaths on the dark brown bough,
So softly on me lie.
Come! let us love, while love we may,
Ere youth's bright sands be run;
The hour is nigh when every soul,
Which 'scapeth evil's dread control,
Nor drains the furies' fiery bowl,
Shall into heaven for aye,
And love its God alone.
Helen. Now let me leave my throne; and if the hours
Have measured every moment by a kiss,
As I do think, since first ye gave these flowers,
It was to teach us how to dial bliss.
Farewell, dear crown, thy mistress will not wear,
Save when she sitteth royally alone.
Farewell, too, throne! not quickly wilt thou bear
A happier form, if fairer than mine own.
Will. The ladies leave us!
Lucifer. Oh; by all means let them;
But say, for heaven itself, we'll not forget them;
Say we will pledge them to the top of breath,
As loud as thunder, and as deep as death.
(apart). Methinks I hear in every sigh
Of wind, that stirs the illumined bowers,
A whisper of the immortal powers
Reproachful, from death's spoils that lie,
In happiest alchemy,
Transfiguring themselves to flowers.
Oh! for thy grave, my love!
I want to weep.
High as thou art this earth above,
My woe is deep;
And cold my heart is as thy grave,
Where I can neither soothe nor save.
Whate'er I say, or do, or see,
I think and feel alone to thee.
Oh! can it--can it be forgiven,
That I forget thou art in heaven?
Thou wilt forgive me this, and more:
Love spends his all, and still hath store.
Thou wilt forgive, if beauty's wile
Should win, perforce, one glance from me;
When they whose art it is to smile
Can never smile my heart from thee;
And if with them I chance to be,
And give mine ear up to their singing,
It, windlike, only wakes the sea,
In all its mad monotony,
Of memory forth thy music ringing.
Thou wilt forgive, if, now and then,
I link with hands less loved than thine,
Whose goldlike touch makes kings of men,
But wakes no will in blood of mine;
And if with them I toss the wine,
And set my soul in love's ripe riot,
It echoes not--this desert shrine,
Where still thy love from heaven doth shine,
Moon--like, across some ruin's quiet.
Thou wilt forgive me, if my feet
Should move to music with the fair;
When, at each turn, I burn to meet
Thy stream--like step and aëry air;
And if before some beauty there,
Mine eye may forge one glance of gladness,
It is but the ripple of despair
That shows the bed is all but bare,
And nought scarce left but stony sadness.
Thou wilt forgive, if e'er my heart
Err from the orbit of its love;
When even the bliss--bright stars will start
Earthwards, some lower sphere to prove.
And if these lips but rarely pine
In the pale abstinence of sorrow,
It is, that nightly I divine,
As I this world--sick soul recline,
I shall be with thee ere the morrow.
Thou wilt forgive, if once with thee
I limned the outline of a heaven;
But go and tell our God, from me,
He must forgive what he hath given;
And if we be by passion driven
To love, and all its natural madness,
Tell him that man by love hath thriven,
And that by love he shall be shriven;
For God is love where love is gladness.
Perchance thy spirit still stays in yon mild star,
In peace and flame--like purity, and prayer;
And, oh! when mine shall fly from earth afar,
I will pray God that it may join thine there;
'Twere doubling heaven, that heaven with thee to share.
And while thou leadest music and her lyre,
Like a sunbeam holden by its golden hair,
May I, too, mingling with the immortal choir,
Love thee, and worship God! what more may soul desire?
Enough for me; but if there be
More it shall be left for thee.
Walter. If anything I love in chief
It is that flowery rich relief
That wine doth chase on mortal metal
Before good wine begins to settle;
But all seem smilingly, serenely dull,
And melancholy as the moon at full.
Quenched by their company they seem
Like sparks of fire in clouds of steam.
Charles. They who mourn the lack of wit
Show, at least, no more of it.
Festus. I cannot bear to be alone,
I hate to mix with men;
To me there's torture in the tone
Which bids me talk again.
Like silly nestlings, warned in vain,
My heart's young joys have flown;
While singing to them, even then,
They left me, one by one.
I envy every soul that dies
Out of this world of care;
I envy e'en the lifeless skies,
That they enshrine thee there;
And would I were the bright blue air
Which doth insphere thine eyes,
That thou mightst meet me everywhere,
And feel these faithful sighs.
E'en as the bubble that is mixed
Of air and wine right red,
So my heart's love is shared betwixt
The living and the dead.
If on her breast I lay my head,
My heart on thine is fixed:--
Wilt thou I loose, as I have said,
Or keep the soul thou seekst?
From me thou canst not pass away
While I have soul or sight;
I see thee on my waking way,
And in my dreams thee bright;
I see thee in the dead of night,
And the full life of day;
I know thee by a sudden light;
It is thy soul, I say.
If yonder stars be filled with forms
Of breathing clay like ours,
Perchance the space that spreads between
Is for a spirit's powers;
And loving as we two have loved,
In spirit and in heart,
Whether to space or star removed,
God will not bid us part.
Frank. As to this seat--its late and fair possessor
Should, ere she went, have chosen her successor.
Festus. In right of her who sat thereon
I think I might demand the throne;
I rather choose to let it be.
All. George shall be king of the company!
George. My loving subjects! I shall first promulge
A few good rules by which to indulge;
They are good, according to my thinking,
And shall be held the laws of drinking.
First--each man shall do what he chooses,
Provided that he ne'er refuses,
But shall be sworn, by stand and stopper,
To drink as much as I think proper.
Will. Stay!--all of you who think with me,
This law should pass,
Will please to signify the same,
By emptying their glass.
Walter. Filling again and emptying, and so on,
At each law--pari passu, as we go on.
George. Secondly--no man shall be held as mellow
Who can distinguish blue from yellow.
Thirdly--no man shall miss his turn or toast;
Nor yet give more than two at once, at most;
Fourthly--if one at table should fall under,
There let him lie--so much extinguished thunder.
Fifthly--let all, in such case, who still stay,
Like living lightning, but the brighter play.
Sixthly--a subject broached,--mind this, there shan't
Be aught said that is not irrelevant.
Seventhly--if any of these edicts should not
Be kept, it shall be good to plead, I would not.
Charles. Oh, let the royal law
Be writ in rosy wine!
And read and kept
At every feast
Where wit and mirth combine.
Festus. How sweetly shine the steadfast stars,
Each eyeing, sister--like, the earth:
And softly chiding scenes like this,
Of senseless and profaning mirth.
Lucifer. Thou art ever prating of the stars,
Like an old soldier of his scars:
Thou shouldst have been a starling, friend,
And not an earthling: end!
Festus. And could I speak as many times
Of each as there are stars in heaven,
I could not utter half the thoughts--
The sweet thoughts one to me hath given.
The holy quiet of the skies
May waken well the blush of shame,
Whene'er we think that thither lies
The heaven we heed not--ought not name.
Oh, heaven! let down thy cloudy lids,
And close thy thousand eyes;
For each, in burning glances, bids
The wicked fool be wise.
Lucifer. I can interpret well the stars.
Charles. Indeed, they need interpreters;
And once, myself, I own, desired
To cast their meanings into verse;
But found the feelings so inspired,
Inapt, as sunshine on a hearse:
And you no doubt will find it worse.
Lucifer. Then thus, in their eternal tongue,
And musical thunders, all have sung,
To every ear which ear hath given,
From birth to death, this note of heaven:
Deathlings! on earth drink, laugh, and love:
Ye mayn't hereafter--under or above.
Yes, this the tale they all have told
Since first they made old Chaos shrink;
Since first they flocked creation's fold,
And filled all air as flakes of gold
Bedrop yon royal drink.
For as the moon doth madmen rule,
It is, that near and few they are:
And so in heaven each single star
Doth sway some reasonable fool,
Whether on earth or other sphere;
For what's above is what is here.
Moons and madmen only change;
What can truth or stars derange?
Edward. Brave stars, bright monitors of joy
Right well ye time your hours of warning;
For, sooth to say, the eve's employ
Doth wax less lovely towards the morning.
So push the goblet gaily round;
Drink deep of its wealth, drink on;
Our earthly joy too soon doth cloy,
Our life is all but gone;
And, not enjoy yon glorious cup,
And all the sweets which lie,
Like pearls within its purple well,
Who would not hate to die?
Will. And who, without the cheering glance
Of woman's witching eye,
Could stand against the storms of fate,
Or cankering care defy?
It adds fresh brightness to the bowl;
Then why will men repine?
Content we'll live with heaven's best gifts--
With woman, and with wine.
Harry. Cups while they sparkle,
Maids while they sigh;
Bright eyes will darkle,
Lips grow dry.
Cheek while the dew--drops
Water its rose;
Life's fount hath few drops
Dear as those.
Arms while they tighten;
Hearts as they heave;
Love cannot brighten
Life's dark eve.
George. Oh! the wine is like life;
And the sparkles that play,
By the lips of the bowl,
Are the loves of the day.
Then kiss the bright bubble
That breaks in its rise;
Let love be a trouble
As light, when it dies.
Festus. Well might the thoughtful race of old
With ivy twine the head
Of him they hailed their god of wine:
Thank God! the lie is dead;
For ivy climbs the crumbling hall
To decorate decay,
And spreads its dark deceitful pall
To hide what wastes away;
And wine will circle round the brain,
As ivy o'er the brow,
Till what could once see far as stars,
Is dark as death's eye now.
Then dash the cup down! 'tis not worth
A soul's great sacrifice:
The wine will sink into the earth;
The soul, the soul--must rise.
Charles. A toast!
Frederic. Here's beauty's fairest flower--
The maiden of our own birth--land!
Harry. Pale face!--oh for one happy hour
To hold my splendid Spaniard's hand!
Festus. Why differ on which is the fairest form,
When all are the same the heart to warm?
Although by different charms they strike,
Their power is equal and alike.
Ye bigots of beauty! behold I stand forth,
And drink to the lovely all over the earth.
Come, fill to the girl by the Tagus' waves!
Wherever she lives there's a land of slaves.
And here's to the Spaniard! that warm blooming maid,
With her step superb, and her black locks' braid.
To her of dear Paris! with soul--spending glance,
Whose feet, as she's sleeping, look dreaming a dance.
To the Norman! so noble, and stately and tall;
Whose charms, ever changing, can please as they pall.
Two bowls in a breath! here's to each and to all!
Come, fill to the English! whose eloquent brow
Says, pleasure is passing, but coming, and now;
Oh! her eyes o'er the wine are like stars o'er the sea,
And her face is the face of all heaven to me.
And here's to the Scot! with her deep blue eye,
Like the far--off lochs 'neath her hill--propped sky.
To her of the green isle! whose tyrants deform
The land, where she beams like the bow in the storm.
To the maiden whose lip like a rose--leaf is curled,
And her eye like the star--flag above it unfurled;
Here's to beauty, young beauty, all over the world!
Will. Hurrah! a glorious toast;
'Twould warm a ghost.
Festus. It moves not me. I cannot drink
The toast I have given.
There!--Earth may pledge it, and she will--
Herself and her beauty to heaven.
Drink to the dead--youth's feelings vain;
Drink to the heart--the battered wreck,
Hurled from all passions' stormy main;
Though aye the billows o'er it break,
The ruin rots, nor rides again.
Charles. Friend of my heart? away with care,
And sing, and dance, and laugh;
To love, and to the favourite fair,
The wine--cup ever quaff.
Oh! drink to the lovely! whatever they are,
Though fair as snow--as light;
For whether or falling or fixed the star,
They both are heavenly bright.
Out upon Care! he shall not stay
Within a heart like thine;
There's nought in heaven or earth can weigh
Down youth, and love, and wine.
Then drink with the merry! though we must die,
Like beauty's tear we'll fall;
We have lived in the light of a loved one's eye,
And to live, love, and die is all.
Festus. Vain is the world and all it boasts;
How brief love's, pleasure's, date!
We turn the bowl, and all forget
The bias of our fate.
Charles. We who have higher things to do,
Might well--nigh feel ashamed
Our faces in these founts to view.
Festus. Of conscience I, unblamed,
The passing hour enjoy, with all
Delights that youthful hearts enthral;
Enough to know that grief and care,
Remorse, regret, will soon their share
Of life assert.
Charles. Meantime, to loftier ends,
I would mine own, and friends,
Might timefully revert.
High aims have we to gain;
Behoves us sure, refrain
From follies such as these.
Festus. To--night it irks me not
That fate to us allot
Some passing hours that please.
Ne'er can we all evade
The future's saddening shade,
Our own fate, nor the passed,
With us, from first, forecast.
Charles. Some other I must try persuade.
List, stranger guest. Within thine ear,
One word, apart.
Lucifer. We are private, now,
Beside this fountain falling clear.
Charles. With aims so vast and bold which thou
Hast for our friend, thou'lt scarce allow
Others, I doubt, to interfere.
But though, 'neath love's and beauty's spell,
Youth lacks true wisdom's just control,
Yet from our merry gatherings here
Comes nought of evil to the soul.
Lucifer. 'Tis more than thou, maybe, canst tell.
Charles. It means not. What I would with thee,
Is to contrive with me, how best
May he, our friend, the verity
Of verities,--such through time confessed,
The truth which men of every rite
Have held in secretest delight--
Lucifer. I'll see to it some day;
And when my plans are fully laid
Will ask your good advice, and aid
In such designs as, need I say,
Will smooth combinedly the way
To ends each have in separate view
For mutual good.
Charles. Agreed. Good friends, adieu!
Lucifer. As proverbs say of every land, in time,
A twig for that bird, too, I'll lime.
George. How goes the enemy?
Lucifer. What can he mean?
Festus. He asks the hour.
Lucifer. Aha! then I
Advise, if Time thy foe hath been,
Be quick; shake hands, man, with Eternity.

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

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