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Philip James Bailey (Филип Джеймс Бэйли)

Festus - 28

In such time
As it takes to turn a leaf, we are in heaven;
Making our way among the wheeling worlds,
Millions of suns, half infinite each, and space,
For ever shone into, for ever dark,
As deity to and by created mind;
Upborne by the companion spirit, who held,
As tempter, now, by God, enlightener, now
But servant ever, in grasp unloosenable, shows
The nature of the All in One; whence evil,
And its necessity, mediate in all life,
Betwixt its source and end; the angels' fall,
Originated, essentially, as man's,
And creature's perfectness how impossible
Until made one with God.
Infinite Space.
Festus and Lucifer.
Festus. Why, earth is in the very midst of heaven!
And space, though void of things, feels full of God.
Hath space no limit?
Lucifer. None to thee. Yet, if
Infinite, it would equal God; and that
To think of is most vain.
Festus. And yet if not
Infinite how can God exist therein?
Lucifer. I say not.
Festus. No. So soon when placed beside
The infinite the poor immortal fails.
Lucifer. It is God contains the infinite, not that God.
Space is God's space: eternity is his
Eternity; his, heaven. He only holds
Perfections, which are but the impossible
To other beings.
Festus. We are things of time.
Lucifer. With God time is not. Unto him all is
Present eternity. Worlds, beings, years,
With all their natures, powers, and events,
The range whereof when making he ordains,
Unfold themselves like flowers. He foresees
Not, but sees all at once. Time must not be
Contrasted with eternity: it is not
A second of the everlasting year.
Perfections, although infinite with God,
Are all identical; as much of him--
And holy is his mercy, merciful
His wisdom, wise his love, and kind his wrath--
As form, extension, parts, are requisites
Of matter. Spirit hath no parts. It is
One substance, whole and indivisible,
Whatever else. Souls see each other clear
At one glance, as two drops of rain in air
Might look into each other, had they life.
Death doth away disguise.
Festus. Even here I feel
Among these mighty things, that, as I am,
I am akin to God;--that I am part
Of the use universal, and can grasp
Some portion of that reason within whose scope
The whole is ruled and founded;--that I have
A spirit nobler in its cause and end,
Lovelier in order, greater in its powers,
Than all these bright immensities--how swift!
And doth creation's tide for ever flow,
Nor ebb with like destruction? World on world
Are they for ever heaping up, and still
The mighty measure never full?
Lucifer. To act
Is power's habit: always to create,
God's; which, thus ever causing worlds, to him
Nought cumbrous more than new down to a wing,
Aye multiplies at once my power and pain.
I have seen many frames of being pass.
This generation of the universe
Will soon be gathered to its grave. These worlds,
Which bear its sky--pall, soon will follow thine.
I, both. All things must die.
Festus. What are ye orbs?
God's words--the scriptures of the skies? for words
With him cannot be passing, nor less vast,
Less real, nor less glorious than yourselves.
The world is God's great poem; and the worlds
The words it is writ in; and we souls, the thoughts.
Ye cannot die.
Lucifer. Think not on death. Here all
Is life, light, beauty. Harp not so on death.
Festus. I cannot help me, spirit! Chide no more.
As who dare gaze the sun, doth after see
Betwixt him and else, a dark sun in his eye;
So I, once having braved my burning doom,
See nought beside, or that in everything.
Hark! what is that I hear?
Lucifer. An angel weeping.
Earth's guardian angel; she is always weeping.
Festus. See where she flies spirit--lorn round the heavens,
Like a forefeel of madness about the brain.
Angel of Earth. Stars, stars!
Stop your bright cars!
Stint your breath;
Repent ere worse;
Think of the death
Of the universe.
Fear doom, and fear
The fate of your kin--sphere.
As a corse in the tomb
Earth! thou art laid in doom.
The worm is at thy heart.
I see all things part:--
The bright air thicken,
Birds from the sky
Shower like leaves;
Streamlets stop,
Like ice on eaves.
The sun go blind;
Swoon the wind
On the high hill--top,
Swoon and die.
Earth rear off her cities
As a horse his rider;
And still with each death--strain,
Her heart--wound tear wider.
The dead rise;
Death dies.
Go, time, and sink
Thy great thoughts in the sea,
And quench thy red link.
Let him flutter to rest
On thy god--nursing breast,
Mother Eternity,
What is for me?
Festus. Poor angel! ah, it is the good most suffer.
Look! like a cloud she hath wept herself away.
Yon central sphere supreme of spirit create,
Immediate seeming most to deity, draws
With irresistible force.
Lucifer. Thereto we tend.
Festus. What of this world we view, and all yon worlds?
If God made not the whole from nothing, how
Is he creator? Somewhat must exist
Else, with himself eternal, nor had all things
In him their origin.
Lucifer. All being he makes
Of his own nature manifestive; each day
Is born a new creation; the infinite
Expands perpetually, new formed; all orbs
Have their revealed law; and every race
Of being hath had its judgment, or shall have.
Festus. The infinite reach of dark and vacuous space!
Oh, let me rest, be it but a moment's pause,
Remember still my spirit toils in guise
Aërial, shadowy.
Lucifer. Alight then on this orb,
Central of heaven's great system, and the seat
Recipient of the virtues of all stars.
Festus. Are all these worlds then stocked with souls like man's,
Free, fallible, and sinful?
Lucifer. Listen. Although
All things be perfect relatively, with God
All is imperfect absolutely. No room's
In his forecounsel for repentance; none
For acts emendative. Grow not in his hand
From fabulous chaos, stars; nor needs he learn,
By slow degrees, to separate elements
From jumbled contraries. The heavenly spheres
Show not as shapeless lumps on rumbling roads
Time scarce hath time to level ere lo! they end;
But bright and glib from the creative hour
Orb, orbit to each other apt, all life
Intelligent, admires; and knows the mind
Omniscient lacks not schooled experience' lore.
Him can events instruct who all events
Foreorders to their end? Nor yet with him
Who for his own good pleasure all hath made,
All life pervades, perpetuates and conducts,
Lieth necessity more than freedom. These
On spirit create, imperfect, only act.
As every living thing upon earth sustains,
Unconscious, weight enorme of aëry leagues,
Their inner life--power thus enabling them;
So by the force of freedom self--conceived,
The spatial pressure of necessity
Man bears with equal mind, as paired with fate,
And inwardly divine. So I with him.
Festus. 'Tis well in souls created room is found
For some self--bettering impulse. Spirits how else
So feeble, and so defectible, see restored?
Lucifer. All creature minds like man's are fallible.
The seraph who in heaven highest stands,
May fall to ruin deepest. God is mind;
Pure, perfect, sinless; man imperfect, is,
Momently sinning. Evil then results
From imperfection. The idea of good
Is owned in imperfection's lowest form.
God would not, could not make aught wholly ill;
Nor aught not like to err. Man never was
Perfect nor pure, or so he would be even now.
Thy nature hath some excellencies; these,
By mean proclivities, oft, and wicked wiles
Thwarted, albeit in kind necessitate
As change in nature, or as shade to light.
No darkness hath the sun, no weakness God.
These only be the faulty attributes
Of secondary natures, planets, men.
God's are not attributes by creature mind
From his essential separable, or such
Not limitless, him would mix with that he hath made.
God is all God, as life is that which lives.
A mighty spirit am I; yet what to light
Is lightning? Lightning maybe one thing slays;
Light makes all live. Thy necessary ills
Bear then with grace. No positive estate
Is evil, or principle, wholly for its form
And measure due to defect, defect to good.
Good's the sole positive principle in the world.
It is only thus that what God makes, he loves,
And must. Ill's limited. None can form a scheme
For universal evil; not even I.
Festus. Can imperfection from perfection come?
Can God make aught defective?
Lucifer. How aught else?
But three proportions are there in all things;
The greater--equal--less. God could not make
A god above--nor equal--with--himself,
By nature and necessity the Highest.
So, if he make, it must be lesser minds,
Lower and less, from angels down to men,
Whose natures are imperfect, as his own
All perfect must be. These two states are not
Except as whole to its parts opposed; and evil's
Itself no ill, unless creation be.
Festus. Is God the cause of evil?
Lucifer. So far as evil
From imperfection comes, and the imperfect
From things he hath made, and these come from his will
To make, be it said, if reverently, he is.
Festus. Then imperfection goes back past man's fall?
Lucifer. Goes to the veriest verge of being create
And nature's rise.
Festus. Speak.
Lucifer. All was peace in heaven
When God to the assembled angels showed
His future ends towards man, not yet create.
Some, I and mine, his wisdom in that end
Misdoubt; and as we doubted, a dim film
Shadowy, o'erspread the spirit; and we felt
Dark, and first knew ourselves from God diverged,
Excentric to the universal soul;
First knew ill's relative existence; knew
Foreseeingly the strife which should pervade
Creation, then begun, which we were doomed
To wage for ever; its final cause, and how
To be transformed and righted and made ground
Of greater glory, knew not; of that end
Still dubious; our conclusive ignorance,
In common with creation, of the mode
And reason to that endwards being a curse,
Inevitable appearing save by death.
But how, immortal, die? Ere yet one act
Had faintest thought interpreted, o'er heaven
Fell down a volumed darkness, night of night,
Thick as a thousand palls, were earth the bier.
For God upon his throne had frowned. When fled
The blackness of that strangeness, lo! we stood,
Who erred, disjoined by line impalpable,
But ah! impassable, from all in heaven.
The seed of sin expanded, as thought swift,
As love light. Self in lieu of God remains
In all their souls who sin, self, deified.
Evil is multitudinous. God is one.
But though the sum of evil, in myself
Not whole or absolute ill, I; for to live
Is of itself a predicate divine;
Good of a high condition; and to be,
Proves mine existence drawn with all from God.
Festus. How is't that mind create of freedom boasts,
Which, when most one with God, most knows itself
Constrained by law divine? Wert free at first?
Or won'st by force of sin, free solitude?
If thus, then is not freedom a defect?
Lucifer. Thou soon shalt see of freedom and constraint
Enough to sate all questionings.
Festus. It is well.
This endless, light--like journey hath wearied me.
Lucifer. Rest thou. I watch by thee. I am no wearied.
He sleeps; he dreams. How far men see in dreams!
Or dream they see; do worlds of things; the heart
To its first hours of innocence reverts,
And nakedness and paradise, ere yet
Round it the world had wound its perishing garb;
While yet its God came down and spake with it.
Such, and so great are dreams. My might, my being,
To him is but a dream's. And could a state
To come fill up their dream--stretched minds, they might
Be gods. And may it not be so? Then man
Is worth my ruining. What doth he dream?
With all the sway his spirit now exerts
O'er time, space, thought, it is but a shadowy sway;
Light as a mountain shadow on a lake.
Mine is the mountain's self. A touch would shake
To nought whatever his soul now feels or acts;
But not a world--quake could touch aught of mine:
Thus much we differ. I will not envy man.
Power alone makes being bearable.
And yet this dream--power is mind--power--real:
All things are real: fiction cannot be.
A thought is real as the world--a dream
True as all God doth know--with whom all is true.
The deep dense sleep of half--dead exhaustedness!
Would I could feel it. Ah! he wakes at last.
Festus. Oh! I have dreamed a dream so beautiful!
Methought I lay as it were here! and lo!
A spirit came and gave me wings of light,
Which thrice I waved delighted. Up we flew
Sheer through the shining air, far past the sun's
Broad blazing disk,--past where the great great snake
Binds in his bright coil half the host of heaven,--
Past thee, Orion! who, with arm uplift,
Like him the divine evil of the world,
Threatening the throne of God, dost ever stand
Sublimely impious; and thy mighty mace
Whirling on high, down from its glorious seat
Drops, crushed and shattered, many a shining world.
And so the brave and beautiful of old
Believed thou wast a giant made of worlds:
And they were right, if thus they bodied out
The immortal mind; for it hath starlike beauty,
And worldlike might; and is as high above
The things it scorns, and will make war with God,
Though he gave it earth and heaven, and arms to win
Them both; and, spite of lust and pride, to earn them.
And now thy soul informs yon hundred stars,
As mine my limbs--well, 'tis a noble end.
What now to thee be mortal maid or goddess?
Look! she who fled thee once, now loves and longs
To clasp thee to her cold and beamy breast.
Pine Moon! thou art as far below him now,
As once she was above thee, thou of the world--belt!
And she who had thee, and who knew thee god,
Died of her boast, and lies in her own dust.
And she who loved thee, the young blushing Morning,
Who caught thee in her arms, and bore thee off
Far o'er the lashing seas to a lonely isle,
Where she might pleasure longer and in secret--
That love undid thee, and it is so now:
Whether the beauty seek, or flee, or have,
'Tis a like ill--this beauty doubly mortal.
What though the Moon with madness slew thee there,
Let me believe it was within the arms
That loved thee even in the arms of death,
And that there snapped the lightning link of life.
Kill, but not conquer, man nor mind may gods.
Thou image of the Almighty error, man!
Banished and banned to heaven, by a weak world,
Which makes the minds it cannot master gods.
And thou, the first and greatest of half--gods,
Which they in olden time did star together
To an idolatrous immortality;
Who nationalized the skies, and gave all stars
Unto the spirits of the good and brave,
Forestalling heaven by ages--wondrous men!
And if--beguiled by wine, and the low wiles
Thou wouldst not creep to meet, and a drunken sleep,
Like to high noon in the midst of all his might,
Close by the brink of immortality--
The deep dominions of thy sea--sire, thou
Didst lose thy light by kings who hate the great,
Thou only hadst to stand up to the sun,
And gain again thine eyes. So the great king,
The world, the tyrant we elect, in vain
Puts out the eyes of mind: it looks to God,
And reaps its light again. Wherefore, revenge;
Out with the sword; the world will run before thee,
Orion! beited giant of the skies!
Thou with the treble strain of godhood in thee!
March! there is nought to hinder thee in heaven:--
Past that great sickle saved for one day's work,
When he who sowed shall reap creation's field;--
Past those bright diademed orbs which show to man
His crown to come;--up through the starry strings
Of that high harp close by the feet of God,
Which he, methought, took up and struck, till heaven,
In love's immortal madness, rang and reeled;
The stars fell on their faces; and, far off,
The wild world halted--shook his burning mane--
Then, like a fresh--blown trumpet blast, went on,
Or like a god gone mad. On, on we flew,
I and the spirit, far beyond all things
Of measure, motion, time and aught create:
Where the stars stood on the edge of the first nothing,
And looked each other in the face and fled,--
Past even the last long starless void, to God;
Whom straight I heard, methought, commanding thus:
Immortal! I am God. Hie back to earth,
And say to all, that God doth say--love God!
Lucifer. God visits men adreaming: I, awake.
Festus. And my dream changed to one of general doom.
Wilt hear it?
Lucifer. Ay, say on! It is but a dream.
Festus. God made all mind and motion cease; and lo!
The whole was death and peace. An endless time
Obtained, in which the power of all made failed.
God bade the worlds to judgment, and they came--
Pale, trembling, corpse--like. To the souls therein
Then spake the Maker: deathless spirits, rise!
And straight they thronged around the throne. His arm
The Almighty then uplift, and smote the worlds
Once, and they fell in fragments like to spray,
And vanished in their native void. He shook
The stars from heaven like raindrops from a bough;
Like tears they poured adown creation's face.
Spirit and space were all things. Matter, death,
And time, left nought, not even a wake to tell
Where once their track o'er being. God's own light,
Undarkened and unhindered by a sun,
Glowed forth alone in glory. And through all
A clear and tremulous sense of God prevailed,
Like to the blush of love upon the cheek,
Or the full feeling lightening through the eye,
Or the quick music in the chords of harps.
God judged all creatures unto bliss or woe,
According to their deeds, and faith, and his
Own will: and straight the saved upraised a voice
Which seemed to emulate eternity
In its triumphant overblessedness.
The lost leaped up and cursed God to his face;
A curse might make the sun turn cold to hear;
And thee, in all thy burning glory, tremble,
In front of all thy angels, like a chord.
Rage writhed each brow into a changeless scowl.
Madly they mocked at God, and dared his eye,
Safe in their curse of deathlessness. To hell
They hied like storms; and, cursing all things, each
Soul wrapped him in his shroud of fire for aye,
With one long loud howl which seemed to deafen heaven;--
And then I woke.
Lucifer. A wild fantastic dream!
A mere mirage of mind! Come, let us leave:
We have seen enough of this world.
Festus. Lift me up, then.
World upon world how they come rolling on!
Smooth moving, irresistible, breathing life,
Self perfect each in impulse, course and end.
But none I see so beauteous are as earth.
Lucifer. Behold these spheres. These be heaven's golden harps,
By God strung, struck by angels; making now
Harmonious worlds, now worlds of harmony.
Festus. Here, all--where God is; the universal soul,
All centering, circumscribing, quickening all
In his own essence infinite; soul of space;
Of all force life, and rational moving will.
In presence here of all these sovereign laws,
Which weave their spells around me, like the rays
Varied of stars, that thwart the vast inane,
And with God's attributes alligned, in us
Beget that sense of world--life which pervades
The boundless whole; I feel the effect supreme
And venerable of one well--ordered plan
Conceived from the beginning; know in truth,
Where law is, there is God; yet is not God
Law only; but peace and order and harmony,
Progressive purity and perfection; law,
Proof of self--limiting will, itself to expound
Towards mind create, whereby his spirit, defined,
Might interact with secondaries; nor these,
From contact with pure deity, fail for aye,
Or in the original void cease. Contract this
All natural life intelligently enjoys,
And builds on, for its world completive course.
Lucifer. All true laws harmonize; in force and end;
Law being law to God, not less than man,
Inviolable. Earth crumbles and decays:
And with the all gulphing main wars ever; fire,
Air, each o'er other elements reigns, subdues
Disorganizes, transforms; the life meanwhile
Of governing nature being to straightly hold,
Or rectify that balance, each in turn
Aims severally to ruin.
Festus. Earth, O earth!
There is so much to love that is purely earth.
Now I could wander all day in the wood,
Where nature, like a sibyl, writes the fate
Of all that live on her red forest leaves:
Aimless, save there to wander, and mine arms
Wind round their grey gaunt trunks; nor, idly quite
Their instincts blind but beauteous seek to guess;
And what things vegetal think of the light, the air
The frost disanimative, the nourishing brook,
And the rude robber storm, that steals their bloom,
Whiles, and whiles, sinking, moans o'er wintry earth,
Like a giant o'er some dead captive dame
Whom death had saved from madness and his love;
Could watch the clouds self shaping fanciful,
Embodied silences, their news yet impart
To each other impulsive, as from wind or sun;
Could tramp across the brown and springy moor,
And over the purple ling and never tire;
Could look upon the ripple of a river,
Or on a tree's long shadow down a hill
For a summer's day, wishing the sun would call
My conscious soul up, up to him as he draws
Dew from the earth: sweet earth, in every clime
Like lovely, in all times, all seasons, now
In tropic wilds, flower blazoned; now where hills
Their burning feet cool in the pearl paved wave;
Now, where in face of winter,--as a flower,
Sheds its superfluous leaflets to its feet,
Heart--touched by frost; or as some silly maid
Consulting to her cost, thin--bearded hag,
Enchantress deemed, with many an uncouth rite
And mercenary, her white weeds, piece by piece,
Yields, ere yet, mute, to lonely couch consigned,
And dream of spouse to be, who though far off
Perchance at sea, still, forced by witchwrought charm,
Shall surely his features visionary reveal
Ere dawn;--delusive spell! so there, like nude,
Stands nature, icily pure; and now where air
Aids life by temperate sweets, with heat nor cold
Stifling perfection: these things, in my mind,
Nor suns nor systems can drive out nor quell;
Nor universal system of all suns.
Lucifer. Oh! earth and sun I have marked them both of late;
This ailing, failing that, whose genial loves
Men once so mouthed; they loathe each other's face,
By this time, trust me candidly, as each,
Seized of the secret of the other's life,
Though severally disposed, together clamped
By fate unloosenably, vain triumph steals
Of mutual hate. As some black--blooded chief,
Swift towards his sudden and unexpected end
Sickening, puts on in right of royalty
Strange robes of ceremony, to meet with Death;
Death, than he mightier; and to blind all nigh
Bids, openly, all his treasures be earthed with him;
Bar--gold and spoils unransomable of war;
Privily, the poisonous bond--quean,--round his feet
Ministrant, gliding like a sable ghost,
Whose slow still step he, easeless, eyes, askance,
Knowing full well she burns at heart to see
The last of him;--dooms to be hurled into his grave,
Living; and wept by all round, dies content,
In mute malignance, ignorant she o' the end,
So nigh, precipitate. Let them perish, both.
Behold the boundless prospect. Goodlier view
I know not: suns which rounding the infinite,
But slowly, as though reluctant to exhaust
The pleasing amplitude of space, themselves
Confess but disguised planets, and so complying
With life's perpetual progress, nearer aye
In its vast spiral to the all central soul,
Towards this the original seat of things return
Obedient; for all worlds are ware of God;
Nay, an orb by him arraigned, starts sensitive
To the touch divine, and feels his finger's force
In counsel or command: the same, it knows
Which holloweth out the bed the stream of time
Shall flow in, flow for aye. Shall mind do less?
Festus. Dost ravage all these worlds?
Lucifer. Ay all mine own.
Where spirit is, there evil; and the world
Is full of me, as ocean is of brine.
Festus. God is all perfect; man imperfect. Thou?
Lucifer. I am the imperfection of the whole;
The great negation of the universe:
The pitch profoundest of the fallible:
Myself the all of evil which exists;
The ocean heaped into a single surge.
Festus. O God! why wouldst thou make the universe?
Lucifer. Child! quench yon suns; strip death of its decay;
Men of their follies; hell of all its woe.
These if thou didst thou couldst not banish me.
I am the shadow whole creation casts
From God's own light. But lo! we are here; at hell.
Hark to the thunderous roaring of its fires!
Yet ere we further pass, pause; dost thou shrink?
Festus. At nought; not I. Come on, fiend! follow me.

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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