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Philip James Bailey (Филип Джеймс Бэйли)

Festus - 21.2

Festus. Glad am I
To light on guests so well disposed,
So well engaged.
George. One beaker try
Ere yet this flask's account be closed.
Harry. Good! pass the ruby round. There's nought so dull
As to behold a noble vessel full
Of radiant blessings, halt upon its way;
So fairly give and fairly take, I say.
Progress is nature's unexpected law;
'Twere better e'en to go from bad to worse,
Than 'tween two like degrees of ill see--saw;
Stagnation is an universal curse.
There is nothing stands still--so old sages declare,
But the world's ever changing in earth, sea, and air;
All the powers of nature, in truth if we trace,
What are they?--what are they, but running a race?
The winds from all quarters career through the sky;
They blow hot, they blow cold, they blow swift, they blow high;
They follow, they flank, and they fly in our face;
What are they?--what are they, but running a race?
The rivers that run to the ends of the earth,
Flow thousands of miles from the place of their birth;
From the old and the new world they pour out apace;
What are they?--what are they but running a race?
The worlds they call wanderers, rolling on high,
That enlighten the earth and enliven the sky;
Going hundreds of miles in a minute through space;
What are they?--what are they, but running a race?
Then with goblets before us, whatever they hold,
Let the hue of the nectar be purple, be gold,--
Let us say as we sit among friends, face to face,
What are they?--what are they, but running a race?
Frederic. Thou'rt scarcely, Festus, quite so gay
As when, long since, thou went'st away.
Festus. I've seen,--what now I cannot say;
But things that tend the mind to free--
Frederic. From what we'll not discuss. I see!
No more of all our old hilarity!
Laurence. All this is lively. Beauty, love, and mirth
Might seem to flavour even vapid earth
To a pure spirit's lips. For my own part,
I own it sinks life deeper in my heart,
At every fresh recurrence: but at times
A thought comes tolling o'er the darkened soul
Which we dare hardly guest; but ill it chimes
With scenes of joy like this, which from the roll
Of memory we too oft would fain erase.
George. Not I, one jot, save your ill--omened face.
Walter. For sacred riddles this is neither time nor place.
Laurence. No: but of earth some sacred writings tell
Its flower was paradise, its fruit was hell.
Such is the fruit of worldly pleasure now;
And thus perhaps my meaning you may trace.
Harry. We do; but think it useless to avow
Such views at festive moments like the present.
Charles. Indeed they call up notions quite unpleasant.
So, let us rout them by another draught,
And thoughts bright as the beverage quaffed.
Harry. The future is the world of youth--
The future is our joy;
We dream of honour, love, and truth,
And bliss without alloy.
But harp not now on love or truth,
Forget your dreams of glory;
The wine will double us our youth;
To--morrow dream again of sooth;
But now to what's before ye.
Charles. Some say Truth lies in water, some in wine;
Suppose I mix them; now she must be mine.
Frank. Nothing again will serve to make us merry.
Frederic. 'Twas stupid in you, Laurence.
Laurence. Was it?
Will. Very.
Edward. Infernal cant you'll always find
Upsets all pleasant parties of this kind.
George. He has put the company, 'tis plain, to flight.
Walter. And so I say--
Charles. I'm going, too.
All. Good night!
Festus. Now and again, earth's scenes to me
Grow dearer, as I rarelier see.
So whilst yon streak of lowliest light
Steals, as to kiss the upward steps of night,
Wait I, to watch, alone the birth
Sublime of morning on the earth.
She comes! how beauteous are her smiles,
The ever glorious morn;
Up from old ocean and his isles,
Her car of radiance borne
By the wingèd steeds of light,
Spurning far the shades of night;
While darkness gathers round her head,
Her heavy wings that late lay spread
Wide o'er the sleeping world;
She quits her home, she flies away;
Abandons her usurpèd sway;
To shame and exile hurled;
Thus falsehood fly, in that blessed hour,
When truth for aye resumes her long lost right and power.

Festus - 21.1

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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