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Philip James Bailey (Филип Джеймс Бэйли)

Festus - 15

Thence to a happier planet--for 'twas his,
Whose soul, streamlike, the images of stars
Immirrored in its surface, stealing, while
At its boldness trembling, knowledge of all spheres
Predisciplinary, to reap;--where, blessed, we meet
The spirit just glimpsed the first night of temptation;
Thenceforth the soul's instructress. The prime steps
See, of the angel spirit, earth--trained to good;
Immortal, self--perfectible; whose deep thoughts
And lofty musings sow in us the seeds
Of higher nature, brighter being. The muse,
Especial faculties raised and vivified, there,
Hail; heavenly poesie hail; all mental powers
Outlustring, even as this, eve's dewy star,
All worlds. The searchful soul, bent to evoke
From all intelligence its especial spell
Of union with truth universal, seeks,
Earth meditating, and in the future plunged
Of mind's advance, our nearest, saddest light.
Another and a better World.
Festus, Lucifer, Angela.
Festus. Sweetest of worlds! which, Lucifer, is this?
Lucifer. This is the star of evening and of beauty.
Festus. Otherwise Venus. I will stay here.
Lucifer. Nay:
It is but a visit. As the morning star
Some know it, too; but these, a wakeful few.
I have no interest in it.
Festus. Let us look
About us. Heaven, it is, it must be! Aught
So beauteous, must have feeling. Cannot worlds live?
Least things have life: why not things greatest, too?
An atomie is a world, a world an atom,
Seen relatively; and death an act of life.
Lucifer. This is a world where every loveliest thing
Lasts longest; where decay lifts never head
Above the grossest forms, and matter here,
Is all transparent substance; the flower fades not;
But every eve gives forth a fragrant light;
Till, by degrees, the spirit of each flower
Essentially consuming it, the fair frame
Refines itself to air; rejoining thus
Its archetype, and preexistent. Here,
The beautiful die not ever. Death lies all
Adreaming; he hath nought to do: the babe
Plays with his darts. Nought dies but what should die.
Here are no earthquakes, storms nor plagues; no hell
At heart; no floating flood on high. The soil
Is ever fresh, and fragrant as a rose;
The skies, like one wide rainbow, stand on gold;
The clouds are light as roseleaves, and the dew,
It is of the tears which stars weep, sweet with joy.
The air is softer than a loved one's sigh;
The ground is glowing with all priceless ore,
And glistening with gems, like a bride's bosom;
The trees have silver stems and emerald leaves;
The fountains bubble nectar; and the hills
Are half alive with light.
Festus. The very blush
Of being; it is surely too a maiden world,
Unmarred by thee. Touch it not, Lucifer.
Lucifer. It is too bright to tarnish.
Festus. Didst thou fail?
Lucifer. I cannot fail. Success with me is nature,
I who am cause, means, consequence of ill.
Yet is't not heaven.
Festus. Oh, no. And would I change
Earth, with her desert breast, and wood--wavy brow,
Fickle though oft, even fatal, for this round
Of delicatest realities? Nay, I love
Earth's woods to haunt when the storm bends his bow,
And volleys all his arrows off at once;
And when the dead brown branch comes crashing close
To my feet, to tread it down, because I feel
Decay my foe; and not to triumph's worse
Than not to win. It is wrong to think on earth;
But terror hath a beauty, even as mildness.
And I have felt more rapture even on earth
When, like a lion, or a day of battle,
The storm rose, roared, shook out his shaggy mane,
And leapt abroad on the world, and lay down red,
Licking himself to sleep, as it got light;
Ay, in the cataract--like tread of a crowd,
And its irresistible rush, flooding the green,
As though it came to doom, than ever I could
Feel in this faëry orb of show and shine.
I love earth!
Lucifer. Thou art mad to dote on earth,
When with this sphere of beauty. Nay, conceive.
Thou canst not yet enjoy a sensuous world,
Refined though ne'er so little o'er thine own,
And still wouldst enter heaven. Valhalla's halls,
And skulls o'erbrimmed with mead; cities of gold,
Cities of silver; temples roofed with light;
God--home and glory--land; Elysian plains,
Where peace and pleasure, endless, cloudless joy,
And ever--ripening bliss, enrapture all;
The Buddhist's blessed Nirvana, half between
What is, and what is not; the Chaldee's orbs
Of gold, where wons the primal light intense;
The high celestial mountains, bright with hues
Spiritual of heaven, Brahm loves, and Siva holds,
So pure that snow would stain, and dew defile;
Where music, and her sister, beauty, dwell,
And the waters flow of immortality;
The pearly palaces and odorous groves;
Forms heavenly, infinite brightness, and of souls
The starry transmigrations, they who home
By the amber main, believe their lot, past death;
The Aztec's burning heaven, where living clouds
By warrior souls informed, sweep round the sun
Ceaseless; rise, fall, at will; an earth--life now,
Or heaven--life had, in turn; whose sword--play makes
Lightning, whose voice in battle, thunder, they
Warring on high; the Moslem's love--bowers, streams
Of wine, and tents palatial, gem illumed;
Where dark--eyed houris with the endearing arms
White, ever virgin, woo and welcome ye;
Eden, where life, toilless, at least, gave man
All things to live with, nothing to live for;
Were, all, too pure for thee. Yet shalt thou be
Surely in heaven, ere death unlock the heart.
Festus. Lo, here are spirits, denizens of the sphere,
I doubt not, fitly fair; and, strange! all seem
To love each other.
Lucifer. He hath but half a heart
Who loves not all.
Festus. Speak for me to some angel.
See, here is one, a very soul of beauty.
Nay, 'tis the Muse. I know her by the lyre
Hung on her arm, and eye like fount of fire.
Muse. Mortal, approach. I am the holy Muse,
Whom earth's best spirits adore; her chosen choose.
It is I who imbreathe my soul into the lips
Of those great lights whom death nor time eclipse;
It is I who wing the loving heart with song,
And set its sighs to music on the tongue;
It is I who watch, and with high thoughts reward,--
For every thing I love that's pure and bright,--
The holy aspirings of the youthful bard.
'Twas but this morn, with the first wink of light,
A sunbeam left the sun; and as it sped,
I followed, watched, and listened, what it said:--
`Straight from the sun I part; and though have passed
Since bidden of God, and in heaven's centre cast,
Worlds, ages, dooms, yet I am light to the last.
And though, foreseen, the world's air warps our way,
And crops the roses from the cheek of day;
As some false friend who holds man's all in trust,
Oils his decline, and hands him to the dust,
Yet all our God shall once bend to his will,
Is sacred, to be loved, or borne with, still;
We know not what may be; we bide what must.
If such then fate, to speed unwavering on
My path, be mine; though fate and fall be one.
For what's this swift, this bright, but downward being,
Too burning to be borne, too brief for seeing?
What is mine aim, mine end? Would I expire
Grovelling in common dust, in sea, air, fire?
Help avarice pelf to heap, war wreak his ire,
Or light the loveless to their low desire?
No; but if favouring fate which, urged from God,
Here vivifies a heaven, and there a clod,
Grant me but this request, death's pang to assuage,
'Twould be to perish on the poet's page,
Where, kissing from his beauty's brow all age,
Bespelled for ever fair, and wrinkle scorning,
As when first that brow brake on him like a morning,
He, with adoring spirit, creates the line
Which leads, by mortal beauty to divine,
Man's soul. For this end, earthbound though, I come,
I'd live, die, go down gladdening, to my doom.'
It said; and saw earth! and one moment more
Fell bright beside a vine--shadowed cottage door.
In it came; glanced above a glowing page
Where youth foreshortening and forestalling age,
Weak with the work of thought a boyish bard
Sate suing night and stars for his reward;
The unwrought crownlets which to bards belong,
And bloom perennial in their sacred song.
The sunbeam swerved and grew, a breathing, dim,
For the first time, as it lit and looked on him;
His forehead faded, pale his lip, and dry;
Hollow his cheek, and fever fed his eye;
Doubt--clouds lay round his brain, as on a hill
Broods the incipient storm, unvoiced; and still,
Quick with the thunder thought, and lightning will.
His clenched hand shook from its more than midnight clasp;
And his pen fluttered like a wingèd asp;
Save that no deadly venom blacked its lips;
'Twas his to enlighten life, and not eclipse,
Nor would he shade one merit owned by other,
To have a sphere his slave, a god his brother.
Still sate he, though his lamp sunk: still he strained
His eyes to work the nightness which remained.
Vain pain! he could not make the light he wanted;
And soon thought's wizard ring gets disenchanted.
When earth was dayed, was morrowed; the first ray
Perched on his pen, and diamonded its way;
The sunray that I watched, which, proud to cease
Mid some fair line, inspired of love and peace,
Died, in the only path it would have trod,
Were there as many ways, as worlds, to God;
Died; in his eye again to live and burn,
As nature's glory all to heaven's shall turn,
When truth's immortal sunbeams guide his pen,
And love his heart who, God--taught, teaches men
They may be all they most aspire to be,
Their longed--for end, their earliest destiny,
Whose aim in life is truth and sanctity.
For earth--life is but being's dawning ray;
And hadst thou suns in day as stars in night,
And each, of heaven perfective, towards God's day
Thy soul brought, still, its highest, truest right
Were, luminous, to rejoin his full--sphered light,
Before whose face creations pass away,
As pass all cloudlets 'fore the steadfast sky,
Or as year, time's arrows 'fore eternity.
Festus. Thanks, thanks! With the Muse is always love and light,
And self--sworn loyalty to truth. For know,
Poets are all who love, who feel, great truths,
And tell them: and the truth of truths is love.
There was a time--oh, I remember well!
When, like a sea--shell with its sea--born strain,
My soul aye rang with music of the lyre;
And my heart shed its lore as leaves their dew--
A honey dew, and throve on what it shed.
All things I loved; but song I loved in chief.
Imagination is the air of mind;
Judgment its earth and memory its main;
Passion its fire. I was at home in heaven.
Swiftlike, I lived above; once touching earth,
The meanest thing might master me: long wings
But baffled. Still and still I harped on song.
Oh! to create within the mind is bliss;
And, shaping forth the lofty thought, or lovely,
We seek not, need not heaven: and when the thought,
Cloudy and shapeless, first forms on the mind,
Slow darkening into some gigantic make,
How the heart shakes with pride and fear, as heaven
Quakes under its own thunder; or as might,
Of old, the mortal mother of a god,
When first she saw him lessening up the skies.
And I began the toil divine of verse,
Which, like a burning bush, doth guest a god.
But this was only wing--flapping--not flight;
The pawing of the courser ere he win;
Till by degrees, from wrestling with my soul,
I gathered strength to keep the fleet thoughts fast,
And made them bless me. Yes, there was a time
When tomes of ancient song held eye and heart;
Were the sole lore I recked of: the great bards
Of Greece, of Rome, and mine own master land,
And they who in the holy book are deathless;
Men who have vulgarized sublimity;
And bought up truth for the nations; held it whole;
Men who have forged gods--uttered--made them pass:
Sons of the sons of God, who, in olden days,
Did leave their passionless heaven for earth and woman,
Brought an immortal to a mortal breast,
And, rainbowlike the sweet earth clasping, left
A bright precipitate of soul, which lives
Ever; and through the lines of sullen men,
The dumb array of ages, speaks for all;
Flashing by fits, like tire from an enemy's front;
Whose thoughts, like bars of sunshine in shut rooms,
Mid gloom, all glory, win the world to light;
Who make their very follies like their souls;
And like the young moon with a ragged edge,
Still, in their imperfection, beautiful;
Whose weaknesses are lovely as their strengths,
Like the white nebulous matter between stars,
Which, if not light, at least is likest light;
Men whom we build our love round like an arch
Of triumph, as they pass us on their way
To glory, and to immortality;
Men whose great thoughts possess us like a passion,
Through every limb and the whole heart; whose words
Haunt us, as eagles haunt the mountain air;
Whose thoughts command all coming times and minds,
As from a tower, a warden; fix themselves
Deep in the heart as meteor stones in earth,
Dropped from some higher sphere; the words of gods,
And fragments of the undeemed tongues of heaven;
Men who walk up to fame as to a friend,
Or their own house, which from the wrongful heir
They have wrested, from the world's hard hand and gripe;
Men who, like death, all bone but all unarmed,
Have ta'en the giant world by the throat, and thrown him;
And made him swear to maintain their name and fame
At peril of his life; who shed great thoughts
As easily as an oak looseneth its golden leaves
In a kindly largesse to the soil it grew on;
Whose names are ever on the world's broad tongue,
Like sound upon the falling of a force;
Whose words, if wingèd, are with angels' wings;
Who play upon the heart as on a harp,
And make our eyes bright as we speak of them;
Whose hearts have a look southwards, and are open
To the whole noon of nature; these I have waked,
And wept o'er, night by night; oft pondering thus:
Homer is gone: and where is Jove? and where
The rival cities seven? His song outlives
Time, tower, and god--all that then was, save heaven.
Muse. Yea, but the poor perfections of thine earth
Shall be as little as nothing to thee here.
Festus. God must be happy, who aye makes; and since
Mind's first of things, who makes from mind is blessed
O'er men. Thus saith the bard to his work:--I am
Thy god, and bid thee live as my God me:
Strength of my soul! thou camest and went'st, sunlike,
From morn to eve; fire--smiling on this heart,
Aforetime calm, until by passion's tides,
Roused, and ambition's tyrannous gales it rose
And dashed about its house all might and mirth,
Like ocean's tongue in Staffa's stormy cave.
But wert thou fragile as the reed once filched,
From heaven, in theft heroic, and with gifts
Of world--vast change charged, still I hail thee fraught
With fire immortal, deathless as the breath
Of God's lips,--every breath a soul.
Muse. It is well.
Mortal, the Muse is with thee: leave her not.
Festus. Once my ambition to another end
Stirred, stretched itself, but slept again. I rose
And dashed on earth the harp, mine other heart,
Which ringing, brake; its discord ruinous
Harmony still; and coldly I rejoiced
No other joy I had, wormlike, to feed
Upon my ripe resolve. It might not be:
The more I strove against, the more I loved it.
Lucifer. Come, let us walk along. So say farewell.
Festus. I will not.
Muse. No: my greeting is for ever.
Lucifer. Well, well, come on!
Festus. Oh! show me that sweet soul
Thou brought'st to me the first night that we met.
She must be here, where all are good and fair:
And thou didst promise me.
Lucifer. Is that not she
Walking alone, up--looking to thine earth?
For, lo! it shineth through the mid--day air.
Festus. It is, it is!
Lucifer. Well, I will come again.
The more he views, the more 'tween God and him.
Festus. Knowest thou me, mine own immortal love?
How shall I call thee? Say, what mayst thou be!
Angela. I am a spirit, Festus; and I love
Thy spirit, and shall love, when once like mine,
More than we ever did or can even now.
Pure spirits are of heaven all heavenly.
Yet marvel not to meet me in this guise,
All radiant like a diamond as it is.
We wander in what way we will through all,
Or any of these worlds, and wheresoe'er
We are, there heaven is; there, and here too, God.
Nor deem still less thou art unwatched on earth.
Even when I saw thee by the grave, and knew
I was purely in thy thoughts, 'twas my soul's prayer
To God, who o'erorders all things in unseen
Control, and bends to his praise what hates him most
As what most loves, thou mightst, sometime with me
Here meet, and quit thy mind of doubts. For here
Dwell many and wisest angels, many souls
Who have run pure through earth, or been made pure
By their salvation since. It is a mart
Where all the holy spirits of the world
Effect sweet interchange of knowledge; truth
Barter for love, for love truth; each enriched.
Festus. Thou dost remember me?
Angela. Ay, every thought
And look of love which thou hast lent to me,
Comes daily through my memory as stars
Wear through the dark.
Festus. And thou art happy, love?
Angela. Yes: I am happy when I can do good.
Festus. To be good is to do good. Who dwell here?
Are they all deathless--happy?
Angela. All are not:
Some err, though rarely--slightly. Spirits sin
Only in thought; and they are of a race
Higher than thine; have fewer wants and less
Temptations, more joys, greater powers. They need
No civil sway; each rules, obeys, himself.
All as they choose, live; choose but good. Who have come
From earth, or other orb, use the same powers,
Passions, and purposes, they had ere death;
Although enlarged and freed, to nobler ends,
With better means. Here the hard warrior whets
The sword of truth, and steels his soul against sin.
The fierce and lawless wills which trooped it over
His breast; the spearèd desires that overran
The fairest fields of virtue, sleep and lie
Like a slain host 'neath snow; he dyes his hands
Deep in the blood of evil passions. Mind!
There is no passion evil in itself;
In heaven we shall enjoy all to right ends.
There sit the perfect women, perfect men;
Minds which control themselves, hearts which indulge
Designs of wondrous goodness, but so far
Only as soul extolled to bliss and power
Most high sees fit for each, divinely. Here,
The statesman makes new laws for growing worlds,
Through their forefated ages. Here, the sage
Masters all mysteries, more and more, from day
To day, watching the thoughts of men and angels
Through moral microscopes; or hails afar,
By some vast intellectual instrument,
The mighty spirits, good or bad, which range
The space of mind; some spreading death and woe
On far off worlds; some great with good and life.
And here the poet, like that wall of fire
In ancient song, towers o'er the universe;
Lighting himself, where'er he soars or dives,
With his own bright brain: this is the poet's heaven.
Here he may realize each form or scene
He e'er on earth imagined; or bid dreams
Stand fast, and faëry palaces appear.
Here he hath heaven to hear him; to whose love,
Which lent him his whole strength, with mainlike voice,
And song he thankful sings as is the wont
Of all great spirits and good throughout the world.
Oh! happiest of the happy is the bard!
Here, too, some pluck the branch of peace to greet
A suffering saint with, and foreshow his flood
Of woe hath sunken: this I love to do;
Who, late on Mercy's mission charged, thee heard
Now, here; but wherefore ask not: thou sometime
Shalt know, and known, and loving me, approve;
Rejoice in knowing.
Festus. Be it, loved one, as thou wilt.
Angela. My love, we shall be happy here.
Festus. Shall I
Ever come here?
Angela. Thou mayst. I will pray for thee,
And watch thee.
Festus. Thou wilt have, then, need to weep.
This heart must run its orbit. Pardon thou
Its many sad deflections. It will return
To thee and to the primal goal of heaven.
Angela. Practise thy spirit to great thoughts and things,
That thou mayst start, when here, from vantage ground.
By ceasing to be little on earth, a soul
Effectually, grows here, half boundless, where
Knowledge of that we would, in being, ends.
Our spirits what there they know and love, of things
Divine, here greaten to; for their final cause
Their inmost end, their highest source in us
Being God, soul--consciousness of whom is bliss,
This, our celestial aptness for high ends;
World--lording will, ceaseless progress of mind,
Ambition to do good, the mastery, sought
With tears, of mysteries, and the exalting love
Of all perfections, virtuous and divine,
Our birth, our worth, proves; and the rational soul's
Most choice endowment shows; whereby, demarked
From lower intelligence, and with heavenly life
Collate, we test the future as of God,
Whose sealed recognizance we embosom here.
For his eternal knowledge, rounding time,
And all things in it happening, makes the world,
To us one vast contingency, to him
All certainty appear, whose note of things
Their actual being precedes, as being, with us,
Its noteableness; who in himself all cause
Or absolute or conditioned holds, and knows
Of all his works by him begun, by man
Continued, or let lapse, which sole shall end
In sanctified perfection. If by us
Conceived, accordant with his pure design,
O happy we! our life--leaf beams in heaven's
Bright archives; but time's parable misjudged,
Misconstrued wilfully, defiled, distort
To ends of him and us unworthy, find
We may, to our cost, or blotted out, erased,
Or, shrieking, from the eternal volume, torn.
Thus, while each fateful only is to himself,
We can foretell our future; we foremake.
Festus. Speak to me of the future.
Angela. Why alone
Of the to come?
Festus. Because I love and dread,
As might a vessel laden o'er--deep with gold,
To cross a stream upon whose further side
Safety allures, but in whose midst is death,
The untold pleasures of the life my soul
Is richliest freighted with.
Angela. God's supreme gift,
Whereby all beings gauge their high advance
In heaven, to perfect joy, is this; to learn
The everlasting future. Less or more,
All happy spirits can, as one with him.
The more their power their longing is the less;
Contented with divinity; but I
Am only at his feet, not yet his breast.
A natural sadness born, O Festus, born
Of the sad passed; though passed, though sad, still dear;
Clouds yet my vision of eternal things;
And human love yet more than nothing seems.
Oh! speak not of the future. Speak to me
Thou, of the passed.
Festus. Immortal! from thine eye
Wipe out the tear of time. The gates of hell
Are barred upon the passed. Their hold is like
The grasp of gravitation. Shall the passed
Ever evade the death--clutch of the world?
No, they shall, like two cars, wheel locked in wheel,
Roll down together to destruction's depths.
Nay, rede me of the future what thou canst,
Divine one! heaven is in the possible.
Angela. Oh, once ere now I cast my spirit sight
Into the orient future, to preview
The features of thy lifelot; but, alas!
I saw what I were fain to have remained
Unweeting of for ever. Now, once more,
Thou wouldst revive my woe.
Festus. Nay, if it grieve thee,
I will not wake the future. Let it sleep
Till its time come.
Angela. Yet with that woe I saw
A web of joy was woven for thyself,
For me, for many, by the love of God;
Who, granting his own spirit to the form
Of divinized humanity, unbuilds
The superseded soul, and making all
Spirits anew in him, doth make all one.
This is the infinite calm which circumscribes
All local lifestorms; this the law of peace
Constrains all strife; the rule of bliss all woe
Which disannuls. Haste, haste, thou blessèd hour,
To the divine fulfilment of the end
Of total being.
Festus. Thus serened, speak on;
And with the sequence of my life forearm
The soul that is within me. Angel, speak!--
Angela. Once at my prayer 'twas given me, as I said,
The future to foresee; and I beheld
A vision of thyself begirt with forms--
Nay, more than one--of beauty; though to one
Lovely and pure as loving, I thy heart
Had trustfully bequeathed; but sad was this;
And that was blithe of blee; and that--enough!
I cannot all denote them; but I know
Malign I felt at first to see the heart
I loved, by them usurped. But when I thought
From these calm heights, of all earth's cares and woes,
And life's brief paradise, the hour of love,
And knew it aye a failure, as of old,
Though a divine experiment, I wept,
And prayed, and found forgiveness for my fault.
Seek to them; choose. They all are in thy life
Blent, and as elements mingled in the cup
Creative of thy world. These twain are bound,--
One, with temptations which the soul divert
Creature--wards from its Maker, not of need,
Not wisely, but too oft; one, with the charms
If not forbidden, of secret knowledge, hidden
As harmful, to the spirit that seeks not truth
For herself sole. This dearest, first and last,
Shall teach thee perfectness, and guide thy mind
On earth, from truth to truth, as I from star
To star unseen, shall have led thee through the skies.
With her be happy. And as I looked, I found
Though 'fore each one, successive, as the fates
Thy spirit did bow; and none but in herself
Chastened, than I was happier; yet in the end
All formed one family spiritual of love.
My soul then gladdened, and I knew that joy
The seal of my salvation. I beheld
All things rejoice beneath the light of love,
Which seemed to burn within me, and beam through,
Lost in the boundless loneliness of God.
I saw earth's war--scarred countenance sweetly glide
Into the angel lineaments of peace;
And gentlest sorrow dream herself to joy.
Tears shed on earth were reaped in heaven in smiles,
And what was sown in sighs was raised in songs.
Rapt in this vision with ecstatic bliss,
Myself secure from all external chance,
As though the one pure atomie of light
Impounded in the centre of the sun--
Ere yet the end of all, methought I saw
Each beauty gathered by the careful hand
Of the great gatherer who forgetteth none.
I felt my being brightened and made fit
For heavenly regions, gladdening in their glee,
And grieving in their grief; as, with thine own,
One blessed fate I viewed involving all,
One everlasting end. All earthly love
Consumm'd with thine, I saw, made love divine.
For as the countless globelets of the dew
Image each one the sun, so, in the dawn
Of heaven's great day, the seed of God shall shine
Each with his golden likeness in his breast.
Thus far my vision. May the all--kind God,
Who crowns creation with o'erflowing love,
Bless it to thee! And wouldst thou further know,
Or of the passed, or the calm coming time,
Seek yonder sphere serene; for changeless there,
In lofty and in lonely light sedate,
The sibyl angel sits, star studying;
Two only things before her--heaven and earth.
Her ask, and she will answer all; nay, show
Sometime, if friendliest trust mayhap, prevail,
A wider scope of things, than spirit like mine
Of heaven's novitiate, can control. And now,
By each forebode, and fortified in soul,
Retrieve thou the terrene. Endure, enjoy.
Who rightly all conditions of life's law
Fulfils, from death to happiest deathlessness,
Proceeds, divinized. Mayst thou in holy joy,
Thy spiritual birthright here reclaimed, aye live!
Festus. So shall it be: thy will and my deed, one.
I do not fear to die; for though I change
The mode of being, I shall ever be.
World after world shall fall at my right hand;
The glorious future be the passed despised:
All now that seemeth bright will soon seem dim,
And darker grow, like earth, as we approach it;
While I shall stand upon yon heaven which now
Hangs over me. If aught can make me seek
Other to be than that lost soul I fear me,
It is that thou lovest me. Heaven were not heaven
Without thee.
Lucifer. I am here now. Art thou ready?
Let us go.
Angela. Well--farewell. It makes me grieve
To bid a loved one back to yon false world;
To give up even a mortal unto death.
Thou wilt forget me soon, or seek to do.
Festus. When I forget that the stars shine in air;
When I forget that beauty is in stars;
When I forget that love with beauty is;
Will I forget thee: till then, all things else.
Thy love to me was perfect from the first,
Even as the rainbow in its native skies:
It did not grow; let meaner things mature.
Angela. The rainbow dies in heaven and not on earth;
But love can never die: from world to world,
Up the high wheel of heaven, it lives for aye.
Remember that I wait thee, hoping here.
Life is the brief disunion of that nature
Which hath been one and same in heaven ere now,
And shall be yet again, renewed by death.
Come to me, when thou diest!
Festus. I will, I will.
Angela. Then, in each other's arms, we will waft through space,
Spirit in spirit, one; or, grateful, dwell
Among these immortal groves; watching new worlds,
As, like the great thoughts of a Maker--mind,
They are rounded out of chaos: will be oft,
On earth with those we have left and love, and help them;
For God hath made it lawful for good souls
To make souls good; and saints, to help the saintly.
That thou right soon mayst fold unto thy heart
The blissful consciousness of separate
Oneness with God, in whom alone the saved
Are holy and deathless, shall become, for thee,
My earliest, earnest, and most constant prayer.
Oh! what is dear to creatures of the earth?
Life, love, light, liberty? But dearer far
Than all, and oh! an universe more divine,
The gift, God crowns his chosen with, of heaven's
Unimageable glory, ere all worlds,
And after all reserved for those he loves.
As when the eye first views some Andean chain
Of shadowy rolling cloud--crags, air--based, height
On height, in sunny snowsheen, up the skies
'Spiring, like angels' pinions, when heaven's host
Self--hushed, God's utterance listens, nor can tell
Which loftiest, nor which loveliest, be; as when
An army awakening with the sun, all hope,
Starts to its feet, spear answering spear, line, line
Reundulative; white plumes, like war--foam, wave
Far round; the light of sword--born lightning gleams
Generously; while reek themselves away, unwatched,
Night's watchfires dull: so feels the spirit when first
Doubt quelled, faith's conquering arms flash certainty
On reason's field; so, too, when now the soul,
God's bright and mountainous mysteries receives,
Containing heaven; moving themselves towards us,
In their free greatness, as, by ships at sea,
Come icebergs, imminently upon their base
Heaving, poised; pure and pointed as a star,
Afar off glittering, of invisible depth,
And in the light above, dissolving.
Festus. Dear one!
My prayer shall be that thy prayer be fulfilled.
And now, to earth again. Farewell, sweet soul.
Angela. Farewell. I will be oft with thee if maybe.
But if, as fate may order, me thou meet'st
Elsewhere than here, demand of me no word,
But imitative of virtues not yet thine,
Thou shalt learn sometime, why, where silence is
Worthless; and reticence only hath wise praise.
Lucifer. Earth like I more than this: I rather love
A splendid failing than a petty good;
Even as the lightning's bolt, whose course is downwards,
Is nobler still than any fire which soars.
I scarce can say wherefore I had thee hither,
It was wrong, I fear.
Festus. Mayhap 'twas destiny,
Life's special charm.
Lucifer. Go to--reasons are plenty,
Nor ever absent, but when wanted. Come!
Festus. I am determined to be good again.
Again? When was I otherwise than ill?
Doth not sin pour from my soul like dew from earth,
And, vapouring up before the face of God,
Congregate there, in clouds, between heaven and me?
What wonder that I lack delight of life?
For it is thus--when amid the world's delights,
How warm soe'er we feel a moment among them--
We find ourselves, when the hot blast hath blown,
Prostrate, and weak, and wretched, even as I am.
Lucifer. I have done nothing for thee yet. Thou heaven
Shalt see, and hell, and all the sights of space,
Whene'er thou choosest.
Festus. Not then now.
Lucifer. Up! rise!
Festus. No; I'll be good; and will see none of them.
Lucifer. Remember, there's the moon.
Festus. My memory
Is most tenacious of the things of light,
And the commands of love.
Lucifer. Oh, happy thought!

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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