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Philip James Bailey (Филип Джеймс Бэйли)

Festus - 36

Perfection gained,
True love his life renews, now sanctified.--
Our world--seer counts humanity's gains, how earth's
Best aims by the associate wise the' elect
Of universal manhood leagued to instal
God's peace, the peace of earth, show. 'Neath one head
One moral empire seems secured, whose laws
Tend proveably but to human weal, not power
Selfish, nor private ends. What forces now
Life's game? It may be fate. The all--tested soul,
Whose aim to most serve men proves best to rule,
His doomful choice here makes; war, life prolonged
To the fore--flood fathers' years, with personal powers
Like theirs who,--lords Preadamite, kinged the world,
Incarnate forces of the universe,
At option, or pure peace, nature's last boon,
Death instant, his; he this, for man's good, claims;
Unwitting that that hour the day of God
Destined, earth's doom--day dawns. Time closes in.
Garden and Grove by the Sea Mountains near.
Festus and Clara.
Festus. Day of all days, bright daughter of the sun,
From midnight hailed by rushing star--clouds, glad
With their auxiliar light to perfect here
My loved one's happy birth--hour; day of days,
When first, fair bride, thy life--path crossing mine,
This transept of existence traced, God now
To himself hath hallowed, our united life;--
Day which now gives me thee;--and thou, night's queen,
In heavenly lowliness sublime, and meek
With the sun's imputed radiance, like a soul
Holy in God, aye brightening with the light
Reflected from the Invisible; earth, albeit
Now with thee waned, while nightly in thy lost light
Death's daily gain stands forth, and conquest waste
Of eternity over time; earth calls on you,
Ye sacred lights, God's ministry in heaven,
Each other eyeing, to bewail with her
As I, these hours, so sadly, deadly sweet,
Stopped in mid flight, which, else, might well be deemed
Intransitive, immortal; hours, ah! too soon,
For me, to cease, like the olden Paradise
Earth's glory, flowery initial of time's tome.
Thee, too, invoke I, of all fateful powers
The complemental force, true one, thrice tried;
This reverence, this my worship is to own
Thy truthful steadfastness; and, separate life
When each can yield help meet the other, a false
And inconclusive end. How only blessed
Men's aims when steadied by celestials' hands!
Clara. My heart intuitive spake the truth, meseemed
The severance once thou threatenedst could not prove
Final. God's equity forbade.
Festus. Enough;
Our guardian angels greeting soon agreed.
Clara. And, bidden of heaven, our destined union fruits
In ominous bliss.
Festus. Most dear, most honoured bride,
Thou sayest. Hast heart to view earth's death--throes? Mark
Her end, with thine like timed? For as, while now
The westering sun, high on yon Alpine height,
Snow shouldered, like a maid for whiteness praised
Of neck or brow, blushing, in sweet defeat
Of admiration, comelier,--his farewell glow
Incarnadines, an instant,--let the moon
Orient, shed down her silver shafted rays,
As though in negligent rivalry to contest
The palm of perfect beauty, man's rapt eye,
Meanwhile, by the coalition unconceived
Of natural lights, droops, awed; so, on thy head
Heaven's claims and earth's, mine too, in right of death,
One moment dreadly mingle.
Clara. For all fates
To be prepared, I seek. Thou hast to me
The world oped and expounded: its needs, claims
On God; its fore--reached purpose in his mind;
Its compassed ends and failures. I, too, thee
May have served; and the All--blesser's wise intents;
By proof of heart obedience, and the gain
Of following truth rather than leading men.
Festus. So kind and providently instructive all
His counsels. Here, too, past the worth of worlds,
As though we owned the merits of angels, God
A season of satisfaction, ere all cease,
And rest hath given, to note the mighty march
And grieve its closure mind hath made; the schemes
Of social life just perfected, now for aye
Disharmonized by their imminent end; its gains
For toil material, and o'er powers matured
By happy use, which, sovereign servants, aid
Man's magistery o'er nature; this in strength
Faith's match, unbasing mountains, bridging seas,
States binding to serve peace and freedom; this
Starring anew the night with pit--born light,
Secrete from primal matter's nebulous flame;
This, third of powers imponderable, which earth
Bridle in her orbit, gravitative, or this
Attractive; this our knowledge o'er the gods
Swiftening and time's poor possible; this which guides
By mineral instinct, through the deep, tall ships
Sail winged; or this not life, but life--like, heat,
Source of inanimate motion and innate,
Caught from God's breast;--all nourishing powers with man
Leagued, want and death--earth's evillest ills--to slay;
And now, long time victorious.
Clara. So advanced,
Completion would the curse not blessing seem
Whereto creation tends, were not God's love,
Making this world's fulfilment that world's base,
Better than all we hope. Earth's end how else
Conceive, or justify by law divine
Not less than natural which, in things made, makes
Perfect, fore--state to fall? If life him owe
For breath, for more, death; access limitless
To ampler being, God's plenitude. So, earth
Ended, all holds that's well; faultless the fair;
Potent the pure; the great and good, joy--souled,
Each other helping, serve the many with love.
Festus. Who loves thee, Lord, lives like thee; is, does, good.
Clara. Man surely grows more godlike daily, nearing
His final future. Thee sublimed in soul
And with life's aims uplift to loftier ends
Time's lapse hath found.
Festus. Time, too, to good men given
By work devout, unselfish, sage, to raise,--
As lands by hidden force their beach upheave
To levels unforethought,--man's social mass
To purer life, more reasonable, more just,
More parallel with God's plan. Behold! the bounds
Of every separate science, known, and all
In one consummed; all modes of state--rule made
Like operative of good; all liberties
Coincident with authority; every faith
Grounded on heavenly influences, and made
Their compensating errors so to adjust
As truth's success to ensure. O'er all, peace, most
Approximative of earth to heaven, and love
Brotherly, thirst for others' good, not blood,
Now urging nations, more content me yields
Than earth's full orbèd realm, my doom. The world
One grand equality now kings. Slave, no more,
Nor lord,--their common nature regnant--breathes;
Rich drone, nor beggar clammed. Sin, vice and wrong,
Hate, misery, lawlessness, contempt of kind,
Self--worship, ignorance, fraud, impiety, all
Life's fellest plagues, impurity, of thought
Or word, or deed, fled hellwards, the chief wise
Revering nature, teach hope: the holy chosen
Pray, interceding for their fellows, God.
Earth's great ones plight to amity, states no more
Ravening for war's dread flesh--feast, seethed in blood
From lust of soil or pride of power, but yearning
Solely for liberty self--earned, or secured
For others, knowledge, mental and bodily health,
And increment of the good God's function, fill
Pacific, each their just and natural bounds
Lakelike. Towards this all times have wrought; and now
Whoso man's worldlife notes, his qualities metes,
His faculties; sums the vast designs or boon
Even now benevolent hearts cherish, and brains
Restless to enlighten souls, and the flesh free
From servile toils, needs sordid, that to quests
More pure, more grand, the world's day may be leased
Largelier, and aims best worthy life, of heaven
Anticipative,--wots well no ampler lists,
No fairer scope could God have given, than earth
As now, state--chequered, with all patterns graced
Each excellentest, of faith, rights civil, grades
Of culture, social, mental; cunning craft,
Refining art; nor deftlier planned to aid,
By gradual concentration of good gained,
The just expansion, just, though slowly achieved,
Of man's supreme capacities, which, sphered
Integral, all, we know shall cease. Nor less,
Author and perfecter of man's wondrous life!
Mark we herein thy wisdom which brooked not
Men should grow wise too fast, nor blessed too soon,
Thy bounty in withholding; of sage restraints
Lavish; in mere deficiency the grace,
Most manifest, of perfectible power; that all
Grounded in good and ill, made sage through choice,
By pure contrition proved, may seek in thee
Sole, their divinity, and attain. So fit,
So perfect, seems his training, both in kind
And instance, of our race, that while we, here,
This calm concentrate life, large yet intense,
Consuming, near our culminant destiny,
The last necessities of his state o'ercome,
Man--like an exiled prince, who through all time
Burns to regain his natal throne--hath proven
By peril, self--abnegation, sacrifice
By labour, learning, largesse, earnest rich
Of kingly intents, the integrity of heart
By birthright his, that purity, that faith
In faith, and charity to his kind, the wise
Know needful to reunion with their God.
For, as of old, truth's substitute, in shows
Mimetic of the moral sphere, through rocks
Dragged naked, bounding breathless out of flames;
Walled in the lone grey death cell midst the moor,
A death regenerative of spiritual life,--
Waiting by nodding rock triumphant proof
Of ghostly call, or innocence; by beasts
Or men, more brute, with sword and brand and snare
Driven desperately, till the delusive goal
Raught, lo! the deep and hidden well, whence risen
And throughly purified, his holy peers
Elect, joined, their austerely splendid life
Partaking and companioning; signs but these
Of the soul's struggles, toils, victories, and its blessed
Acceptance with the power which, granting life,
Tests meetly all responsible spirits; thenceforth
Him delegate of God, behoved to abide
In ever ripening certitude,--and truth's
Grave mysteries, here, all lore beside outworth,--
The advent of the Eternal, and the e'er
Renewable triumph of truth's light. So, now,
Self--chosen example of humanity, here,
The initiate of philosophy, while freed
From physical contest, perilous feat and fear
Of elements embattled,--tests once meet
For times of ignorance,--versed in every art
That life adorns or consecrates; in law
Ennobling, science which sustains, in ties
Social and sympathies; in relations pure
Alike with kind and kindred; skilled in lore
Profoundest, man hath heired from ages passed;
A doer of good deeds; strong to endure
The stings of slander, torts of strength or fraud;
Perfect in faith's just ordinances; in all
The duties of humanity, must, perforce,
More even than erst, clearly approve himself
Truth's champion, virtue's friend. But, who aspires
His nature to consummate, to partake
Strict and entire communion with the source
Sublime of soul; resolved, though lone, to tread
The heavenward path of wisdom,--quits, content,--
Life's labyrinthine round; earth's charmful lures;
Time's fraudulent vanities; abhorrent, shuns
Man's meaner passions; paltry pleasures, cares
Carnal or covetous; wily ambition's schemes,
Rank ostentation's toys; the solid world
Held but a shadow, every idol form
And mode of worship waived, trusts schemes no more
Of faith widespread, wise seeming once, but, now
Gone like a molten glacier, that of old,
While yet the youthful sun his waxing beam
Shot on our shivering orb ice armoured, aye
His burning glance fate--fraught and fascinative,
By dale and hill followed, till, o'er the brink
Precipitous of the abysmal main, it fell
In a dry cataract shimmering on the beach,
No more to rise; but, henceforth, spirit sole
In spirit adoring, he, the enfranchised heart,
Trampling on death, and more, the fear of death,
Shall equal angels here: the soothly wise,
Separate to righteousness, self--reverent, sworn
Earth's peace to endeavour aye in spite's despite;
Their nature hallowed by their aims; inspired
With God's truth, knowing all things as in God,
So from him emanant, and, as proveably
Purposed by him, good;--evil ignoring save
As cloudlet which the calm briefwhile obscures
Of perfect being: one substance, all divine,
Eternal, indivisible, vital; these
With him, all life, unite, as altar fires
Assimilate with the heavens.
Clara. Should never man
Near, more than now, perfection; and the best,
Sinners by nature, if by grace sinless, clothed
In righteousness divine, as mount with snows
Eternal, while within red rabid fires
Smoulder, although perhaps subdued, still joys
Are there to some not world--known. Let us boast
In secret, of our thrones, like kings disguised,
And as, in eastern spousals, bride and lord
Crown each the other, kingly obeisance, so,
Humiliate with the excess of grace God given,
Praise we his merciful pleasure in pardoning sins
Of loved ones, greater than their power to offend.
Festus. Thy soul let revel in its own innocence
Even as in snow the snow--pure ermine.
Clara. Heaven
Is in our inmost spirit as in the eye
Yon imaged infinites.
Festus. All plans forespent,
Pleas present, purposes of future life,
To him surrendered who gives all; the passed
Errors abjured; mine heart I have molten in tears
As kings their gods erewhile in gold to pay
Some covetous conqueror; but to my soul God
Content with nought but all, hath all at last
Remitted and forgiven. It is faith removes
This mountain of our sins, and in the sea,
Tearful, of penitence casts. As by art's stress,
Granite and steel flow free as oil, so 'neath
God's awful love man's conscience stilly thaws,
Whate'er its self--shaped purpose losing: here
Withdrawn, self--banished, I the ascendant sign
Wait of earth's demolition; knowing still
With God one preappointed end yet holds,
One high design yet unfulfilled. This, soon,
The assembled chosen of nations, of our race
Chiefest in worth and wisdom, shall make known
Returning from all lands, their vast consent,
In sage and solemn secrecy achieved,
With doom divine, recorded in the roll
Of foreordaining fate, and thine own spell
Predictive of pacific power.
Clara. Our God
Is happily lord of peace and union. Strife
Divisive nought agrees with love and heaven.
Festus. But unity hath shades, modes manifold.
Many are the ways God shows us we may serve
Man, and his own good cause. These even the toils
And trappings of the fight by virtue waged
In man's behoof 'gainst ill; the dust, shouts, sweat
Of struggling swarms attract; and these, a spot
Contemplative, where memory may recal
The simple sweets of early love, the heart's
Wild honey, gathered in green glades man's eye
Seems even to startle; which, like the wrestler's oil
In grappling with the world or ghostly foes,
May loosen the adversary's grip.
Clara. Need were
Our deeds, motives to scan, and their results
Carefully, prayerfully; every daily sum
Of duty verify by its holy rule
In God's celestial key wherein, more fixed,
More true than nature's fleet forms, all acts, means
And ends contingent, through each factor traced,
Thought, feeling, interest, ignorance, circumstance
And temperament stand solved; of our moral sense
And soul's vitality sole test, prime rules,--
That each one's acts and purposes comport
With others' good not less than ours.
Festus. It is this--
Life's universal law, the code divine
Graved in all hearts wild, cultured, though unwrit,
Justly to live and temperately; in peace
And charity with the world; content with fate;
To law obedient human and divine,
And to the lord of law; to all that breathe
Kind; sociable with mankind; honouring all
Life's pure relationships; to worship God
Sincerely, and to do men good; abet
Virtue, the right, always 'gainst vice, wrong, ill;
Truth aye to speak,--for to speak truth's to talk
In God's own tongue, truth middle term 'twixt earth
And heaven! to labour honestly, and rest
Holily, cheerfully, for he who made
All things, both rest and toil hath hallowed;--us
Ones with the one supreme in will, and rounds
With good the common nature of all life;
Which of and in him born, him serves and loves
With open trustfulness. Whate'er the end,--
On this sure base,--that God's wide equity
Commensurable with mercy, and than all law
Juster, all tabulated claims o'erriding
Bidden or forbidden, and which by principles
Precept supplants or modifies,--rest we; safe
That even as he himself immutable
In essence, but reflecting outward lives,
As ocean clouds, shows towards created soul
Reciprocal eternally;--as we love
Loving; condemning as we err; to all
Revering him, resembling, boon; so man
To deity linked, by life immortal, feels
In his inmost being when, heartwrung, he forespeaks
Heaven's judgment on iniquitous deed; when wroth
At treachery's triumph; or, when uttering truth
Spiritual, inspired,--all states external lost
Like star--dust from a seraph's wing in flight
Upwards, conscious identity with God.
Such union now earth's best reality; time's
Most chief, most choice delight; the soul at peace;
Life's rolling round, to him submiss, the Spirit
Divine, of loftier ends once meant for man
Reminded, deigns to regulate. As when,
In class, the pensive tutor,--his high heart
Ambitious as a bow upstretched to outshoot
All rival boughs, on vast designs intent
Inly of human weal, truth proven, or law
Harmonic, 'tween creator and create,--
By timid monitor summoned, shuts away,
Sighing, his sacred theories, and proceeds
To lowlier needs in earnest; bent to inform
His docile pupils how our sphere the sun
Spins round, and in what posture, blandly, at once
The mimic globe--by puerile guilt awryed
From its right incline, restores, minutely just,
To ciphers graved on the arc meridian, brazen,
Steadfast, all circling; our true attitude
Toward heaven thus shown;--so God, by prayer invoked
Stooping to instruct the sons of men, corrects
To his eternal and immoveable law
Soul, from its due position sin--wrenched;--he,
So much less prone to punish than to teach
Pleased, pleased to expound and rectify, nor time
On passed mischance waste, he himself for us
Gives as best lesson; and our poor fallen orb
Bids walk again, head skyward; man's main end,
Whate'er his first deflection, being to make
Now, best amends we may; to know, be, do
The most we can, of good; for that we know
And do, we in truth are; and thus bettered, live;
His joy and ours combined. For, when God first
Launched on its infinite course this sphere of man,
This mixed humanity,--through good and ill
Contestful, whirled--as earth through gloom and sheen--
Zoned it with laws, with broad degrees of right
Humane swathed, and with binding lengths of love
Divine, convergent, crossed, he midst all powers
Of fate the intelligible orb enthroned;
Housed it with angels; him, their common source
Beneficent, of light, life, godship round
In graduated freedom ranged, and bade
To all the bliss thought creatural could conceive,
And live, aspire. We, thus encouraged, taught
All vital wisdom profitable to man
In thought, word, deed and love to him, our being's
Fitness and joy most high; taught here to know
The virtues are heaven's elements, as air,
Fire, water, earth, the world's; and that the soul,
Simple and inseparable, conformed by their
Pure quality to his heavenly substance, lives
Thence, trans--essentiate, secretly in God,
As a star in day;--find, too, as by access
Of finite to the infinite, nature's end.
Clara. How rich in teachings is God's word!
Festus. O soul
Of saintly light, wherever truth be voiced,
God's word know, as his law in all that's right.
Wherever soul acts righteously, intends
Truth's triumph, or man's weal, with mutual joy
There creature and Creator meet; not less
On crag or desert sand, than temple floor
Of porphyry polished, or tall columned courts
With moonwhite marble impaved and night--black slabs.
Where heart thou findst pure, holy, unselfish life,
Love brotherly, matched and crowned with love of God,
Seek there his people, his chosen; hear there his word
With all perfections teeming. Who now lodge
The living saving truth, nor famishing soul
Gorge on gross shadows, and the unfoodful chaff
Of ceremonies artistic,--servile form
Of words, nor tinkled time of worship, need,
Nor dome spire--peaked, sky peering. Life's best part
In voiceless converse and serene commune
With heaven's soul--sanctifying spirit, who gives
To every age fit inspiration, passed,
They in their own hearts hold realm, shrine and God,
Him in themselves adoring. The soul's war,
Its struggle not yet to admit the Almighty force,
Though round it and above; the heart's revolt
Ended and pardoned; dread, despair, doubt, quelled,
God to his saints reveals himself as peace,
Parent of bliss. Such, glorified, have sped
From deathful nature and her fettering sins,
By divine impulse into life eterne.
There, errless, they abide. Nor hold such lot,
Though of pontifical function void towards man,
Irreverend; for, by none else shareable,
Save their victorious spirits who, fined in fires
Of trial and of soul conflict, running bright
Pure, ductile to God's hand as virgin ore,
Original innocence have regained; these sole,
To God sealed, true felicity know; whose breasts
By rational light illumed; and filled with plans
Worthiest of man, angelic purposes,
Beam, inly sensible of divinity; thence,
Such serious rapture radiating, as felt
Once, maketh happy aye. Yes, these are they
Who in purity of heart, in humbleness
Of spirit, faith--fraught, in holiness of life,
In sin condemned, repented of, abjured,
In will quiescent as the wave Christ's feet
Trode tranquil; who, their being yielding up,
To him who asks, as a sigh to one beloved,
Are wholly God's. Let whoso hath these signs
Congenital with the spirit's birth, rejoice.
For him time renovates the sphere; redates
Earth from its primal order; trebly bright
Shine sun and moon; the sweet stars shape themselves
Into all oracular asterisms; the clouds
Space--born, like thoughts of mind, mount at his spell
Compulsory, to forespeak things coming; air,
God's fan, wafts Eden; and the large, live world
Throbs palpably beneath his hand; his heart
Is as an ark twin cherubs, prayer and praise,
Fend with life--sacring wings.
Clara. Less worship, more
Virtue, the same in all faiths, and their sum
Earth needs; a godly race self given to God,
Who of his mind partaking, in his will,
By boundless acquiescence, co--operate;
Lovers of natural life and cherishers,
Though more of spiritual existence, still;
Pacific; holding each man sacred guest
In common with himself, of one great host;
Yielding to him their nature, he, who all
Defect o'erfills, to them, his righteousness;
These in the mirror of God's mind his will
Reading, shall satisfy, perfective; his
Whose thoughts are high as mountains, deep as seas;
Who in either hand beginning holds and end
Of things; pours forth creation, or withdraws,
Like him of yore whose lordly lay led back
The rivers gladdening, refluent, to their source;
Regeneration's sacred cycle; his
Whose eye guides nature; goalless yet.
Festus. How long?
Nature is full of God; but he abounds
Immeasurably o'er all. His monarch will
All law he hath himself ordained, o'errides.
Elsewise, defined and calculable, we
Sum up, and him deny. Oh, more than all
More infinitely, is he who all hath made!
It is not enough that in all mine eye beholds
I trace him, in all life that buds, breathes, blooms,
I feel him in my heart; in mine, death--freed,
The spirit, I hail, eternal and divine.
Even evil tells of God to the pure soul
And thoughtful, as divinely endured.
Clara. To know
Prayer radius--like unites the soul with God,
All central, all surrounding; shuts the world
Out of the heart; and sets frail being to face
Eternal virtue, rapture gives; but prayer
Preferred, is oft more, prayer fulfilled, means, end.
Lo, mine now granted in my joy and thine.
Think, too, how patient God, how wise man's friend;
Triumph deferring till, full faith assured,
Our ill--timed importunities brooked awhile--
The world to its forefated end approach.
Festus. Man entered on a higher course, the scheme
Of things seems in these later, kindlier days,
Nobilitated. No slaughterous tools of war,
By false--souled priests ill--blessed, by reckless scribes
Lauded, tear men to quivering fragments, now;
Nor sword, death's reaping--hook for human corn;
Nor cannon's syllogism confutes the right
In bloodiest controversy. One round belief,
One universal and simple faith in God,
Stablished o'er earth, from slavish ignorance freed
And tyrant superstition, one most just
Perfect and catholic polity, makes mankind
Though late, an unity; shows man purified,
Man elevated, man peaceful, man made wise;
Worthy God's rule; but rule, by his will, on me
Devolved. And me, the world's vast littleness
Mocking no more, I look not for that prize
Vouchsafed me with vain ambition, nor with pride
Hail, but a toilful privilege deem to serve
In duty spiritual my brotherly race;
Judge it the righteous fine I pay for wish
Presumptuous granted. Earth's conclusive hour
Hath clicked its gentle alarm; and all too late
'Twere to recall what, if regretful, I
Have caused, the doom of earth. I have seen ere now
A penitent people, prostrate, bid remorse
Trample their hearts as in a winepress; seen
Nations when galled with the insults of years
And wrongs of generations sacrificed
To the few's selfish class--pride, at last roused
Wroth, and their ire incendiary demark
Through all the land; here by burned cities; there
By beaconed palaces, fuming night with scent
Of cedarn roofs--the tapestried handiwork
Of queens long since anointed, long embalmed,
Palling the flaunting flames; sudden, the bold,
With sense of wrong irreparable, and dread
Of retribution, chill;--for soon revenge
At conscience' feet confesseth,--and in vain
Time's slowly purpling fruit would fain await
Repentant, remediless; so I, my soul
To thoughts tumultuous yielding once, too prompt
To impound the future, would, but can, defer
No longer, time's last end. The final word,
Raze earth to its foundations, hath gone forth.
Hungers the inevitable to be fulfilled,
As gods of the orient, uncomputed years,
Yearn for their avatars. This end foreknown,
The secret thought--as torrent subterrene
Wrenched by distorting strata from the light,
Falls inly thundering on earth's heart, my soul
Fills with unnatural tumult, for man's sake
Not ours, though blent inextricably. And as,
While storms rend air, on high reigns spatial calm,
Where spheres their ancient tracks of light re--rolling,
Salute in saintly silence, storm and star
Like just intent accomplishing,--so thy life,
Pure, peaceful as the path aetherial trode
By her now regnant in mid heaven, and mine,
Long time by doubt and passion tempested,
In common with the world, reach one same end.
Clara. When, know we not, nor would I know. But all time
Seems now a boon unreckonable; most fit
Therefore for godliest spirit to rouse the hearts
Of thoughtless nations to life's imminent close;
And as of old the arch--druid, golden knifed,
From his altar crag now lonely amid the moor,
Doled forth to awestruck tribes by brands, God's fire,
Their willowy bowers or rockhewn nests, in brows
Of cliffs, scooped like the sand swallow's, to warm,
Hearths sanctify, and life forefend from bale;
Do thou, man's thronèd minister, send round
Thy flame--winged words warning the world of doom;
Blessing with hope of heaven: that all in heart
May home them and hold holy.
Festus. The world's rich
In warnings; and advice creeps ofttimes round
To find one, goal and starting--point. Already
A thousand tongues I have caused to monish men,
Incredulous, to this day, of things to be;
Nor by one hour would I, for selfish ends,
Time's scheme foreclose. The soul made perfect here,
By him who in secret works, and openly,
Patent in nature's every fact while yet
In operation latent, helps by means
Thrice sifted, heaven, to sow with both hands brimmed,
The liberal truth, nor faint; to scatter hope
And reap belief; my guerdon sole, as yet,
To bask me in thy rare retreats, content!
Where, stripped of mere conventional values, life
And time are, by deliberate conscience, priced
At their just worth, the good that may be wrought
In them and through them for mankind, by mind
Actful, not o'er solicitous; where the mock
Empire which custom sways, the painted forts
Unreason mans 'gainst truth, delude no more;
Where eyes o'ertaxed with the world's tinsel glare,
The luminous rottenness of sacred shams;
The microscopic grandeurs flattery feigns
Eye--fawning, her own pettiness to hide;
The foil of false repute; the sickly flash
Of pale and pasty wit tricked from the crown
Of ignorance worn by puniest judgling;--add,
Where ears, distraught by their gong--beaten lies,
Who betwixt obscurity and ignominy
Courted, embrace both,--gluttons of contempt;
By full--fed pity's after--dinner groans
O'er lean men's nuncheons; the paper trumpet's blare
Blown, till it bursts, of charity; by the oaths
Obscene, of gentle doctrine gone stark mad!
And babble of opinion's shallowing stream
All down its daily kennels,--may each, in still
And wholesome shade, rest;--while even here, to view
The eye--brine trickling down to the treacled lips
Of adulation fined, greed hoped; to hear
The bruit of nations questing after dreams,
And dream--names, sworn to capture liberty;
Might make one wretchless smile. Have I not seen
An ignorant people serve the living God;
And self--dubbed sapients, grovelling at the graves
Of certain dead rogues, ycleped philosophers,
Call their foul faith religion?
Clara. Rate not now
'Neath their just worth faith nor philosophy;
The soul's instructor this, that sage moderatress,
Apt in one faultless breviary, to imblend
All faiths heaven's angels might use here with us,
We there with them.
Festus. Know I not, here and there,
An amiable mild--mannered seer whose vast
Inheritance of the skies escheats to dust,
By voluntary defeasance, atom--wise,
Stake out his lines of being, necessity
Reason, the absolute, negative,--what not?
Measure himself 'gainst God? Assume to be
God? and survey the universe of things
With some dissatisfaction as a feat
Scarce worthy of him, nor comparable at all
To that he meant it should be when--his soul
Diffused, meanwhile, in death through space--he next
Should wake to conscious deity?
Clara. Nay, let be.
Such bitterness savours not perfection. Sneer
Nor sarcasm peace befit, nor spirit affied
To charity's friend, content.
Festus. Thee firm I know
On mercy's side, by kindliest nature bound
The punitive ire stern justice vaunts to assuage,
Though lashing but with tonguèd scourge, and scorn
Of foes presumptuous, even if weak. As when
Heaven's lesser bale, through many a stellar house
In militant triumph riding, till by law
Gods even must vail to, stalled, his fiery team
Reins stationary, and, chafed at forced recoil,
One bloodshot feverous glance on the luckless lands
Thralled to the sign he fires, thrown, backening turns;
Stamps in the nations fury and civil strife
Disastrous; causing the social elements
Clash; or, through ruinous insurrection, seek
Self sundering, raw contracts, less just; if now,
Beauty's mild orb, that fair benignant, beam
Conjunctively disposed, on the dread scene
Time groans withal, her stern swain's human realm
Compassionating, his brow, frown writhen, she smooths
While yet far, with boon--asking eye; and now,
Neared timidly the starry pest her charms
Dazzle, toys guileful with the death--strung nerve
Of his bow sky--arched; his angriest bolts steel--beaked
Lulls womanishly; with strange delicious touch
Sleeking their storm--packed plumes; each battailous fate
To stress competitive softens, to wordy wars,
Or emulous bent; thus tempering every plague
She fails to avert, or, midst her piteous breasts,
Paler than moonlit lilies, hides;--the world
Breathes bold, nor wots the secret treaty of light
Sealed in heaven's chancellerie;--so thou, sweet bride
Predominating by mere humanity, sweep'st
All bitterness from my heart.
Clara. Such grace, mayhap
Thou deemest weakness still; and much misdoubts
My mind the emprise thou vowest me to.
Festus. Be brave!
Thy weakness brings forth strength, as the young slight moon
The year's main tides. Nor I have strength, nor thou
Aught to endure or do but comes from him,
Tasker and lesson. Joy be it meanwhile, to me
Whose loftiest hope is lowliest even to stand
'Mong devotees of good; a vital voice
With the great whole in unison; to feel
How, raised by God's good mercy above the clash
Of narrow creedlets, jarring systems, sects
Sick of unnatural piety, overlaid
With truths so twisted as show well nigh false;
One soul from faiths complex and frivolous freed,
Grace--moved, more worthily truth to construe, may,
Through simplest trust in God and neighbour man,
Learning a wiser, teach a happier way.
Rather than all these spurious sanctities,
Give me the loneliest desert where man's free soul
Towers naked in God's eye, and, as a temple
Empty, but full of awe, let me all shrines
By art debased, for heaven's uncolumned fane,
And truth's unritualled service, quit; a faith
Faith fills with visits of angel deities;
A pastoral rite, a patriarchal creed;
A filial worship of the all--fatherly God;
A covenant binding with the Eternal,--this
Of truth communicative; this bold to embrace
The vital Infinite. The soul which wins
Rest in the alone divine, once purified
From all ills gotten of contact with the world,
Its hollow shows and rank impostures, dread
Of wrongs impossible to impute to God,
Yet sure his justice, as all his attributes--
Will boundlessly affect intelligent life,
Lives rebegotten, a personal verity,
By him in view of his complete design
The whole, conceived; and so thereto akin,
And unto God, name greater than all writ,
All wit, can teach, that he who made, and told
The broad affinity, seals and sanctifies.
Clara. Shows there no peril lest ghostly pride should snare
Our spirits somewhile in parleying, pondering, even
These ends, so vast, of God? To touch on, seems
So oft, in view defective, to comprise.
God grant us humble hearts and lowly thoughts.
Festus. Love I not, too, humility, these thy plains
Of soul, rich in the roots of fruitful things?
None but the great in mind, the true in heart,
The just in life, the perfect, seek thy peace,
Thy pastures, where the consoling spirit oft
Walks beatific; sanctifies the breast
Which suffers sovereignly, and, all kind, confirms
The soul that lists not other's gifts, nor need,
Each to himself sufficing; but its own,
Loyal, asserts to vindicate God's rights,
And, boasting nought its own, all claims as God's.
God is my friend, and nature. Sun and sea
Are my next neighbours. Yon great main and I
In turn expatiate o'er the same sands; wake
By each other's bed; or by the sad moon trined,
Her silvery kiss of pure and equal love
Receive; joint boon and bond. Oft in his sleep,
And in this neap of time, I overhear
The ubiquitous winds weird secrets interchange
With the elements of the future; he alone,
To those exalted mysteries unbid; oft
From morn's slow opening eye to eve's, sun--drooped,
Track his broad dial's hands of ebb and flood;
Now, like a favourite thought, recurrent, dart
Into his bosom; now, like falcon poised,
Mantling his wings, strained stirless in mid air,
Float, with the sea--sway swaying; upon his heart's
Large and deliberate beat, rocked. Earth, for me,
Sometimes, I dream, forgetful of fate's plan,
A niche hides, ivy fingered, dank with dew,
Close by her side, where, when the gay day ends,
Her world--worn brood she lulls; with sweets alone
Of sleep unsurfeited. The moss--branched woods,
Traversed by sloping lanes of evening light,
Greet, whispering to themselves, my wonted foot;
And you, gaunt hills, that stand with broad brows bared
As in perpetual consciousness of God
With us, and inward audience of the heavens;
And pass me along nightly with solemn touch;
In the austere comity of mountains me
Accept, your reverent comrade, like endowed
With reticent virtue; ye, who but seem to lack
Organic utterance; quick with sacred thought;
And through the eye's still commune not unskilled
To impart, prompted by dumb immensity,
Majestic meditations. Among your forms
Unmoved, the spirit consentient with that power
Working miraculous in all round, grows apt
And proper to the Eternal. We believe
In silence, looking on the face of things
Which have returned through changeless years his gaze
Who in time's fluctuating effects,--absorbed
Mid their surroundings, iceberglike,--joys not;
But in his own pure mountainous purposes,
Fixed as the ever sedent fates, the orb
Which dominate. Drawn thus, and in right accord
Towards the divine, we walk, like paced with God,
Leaning on him, and, conscious of the vast
Circumference of his arm, advance; no more
Maker with made, nor just law with blind force
Or act of chance misblending; but sustained
By his impartible strength, and by the smile
Cheered, which all spirit turned Godward doth illume,
We tread down each day's shadow, and so step
Clean o'er the soiling world.
Clara. The world nathless
We too much love, for those imperial tasks
And kinglier ends the soul is destined to,
By him who calls us not to trifle but reign.
Festus. It is manworld only, this petty universe
Deformed by sin and selfhood, to the sense
Breeds vileness, and repugnance of pure thought.
God's outer sphere is faultless. Be it man's
To accord the soul--world with the world--soul, God.
When from each heart youth's grand illusions perish,
Mean wits deem so much wisdom earned; conceits
Exploded counting virtual truths, not knowing
The multitude here of sectional sciences
Accomplished ignorance. Truth can be but one;
Of all, the essence sole and simple.
Clara. See!
The blue of heaven o'ercast. Each natural change
Seem I to dread, sad forenote of the end.
A rising gust o'erawes me. Vain alarms
Doubtless, but erewhile to be verified.
Festus. Life's shadow, death, hastes to enshroud the world.
Clara. You skiey mourners that, like mine own sad thoughts,
Can scarce yourselves sustain, too prompt to tears,
Let me at least weep with ye. Nature, here
Ends her divine descent. Henceforth it is God
Claims all things, and reclaims. And can it be,
That all this vast and visible scheme of things,
Set in light's golden frame, no more shall eye
View? Mountain; streamlet swiftening to the deep;
Sward, flower besprent; wind--haunted forest; plain
Fruit--laden; all gone? Shall nevermore that peak
With stern uplifted finger threatful, check
The outgoing storm, and bring it to his feet,
Effusive? Nor yon grim glacier where it creeps
Wrinkled and rigid, as snake half frozen, e'er burst,
At streamy touch of the all--transfiguring sun,
Its icy enchantment, nor its patient hope
Yet gain, of all its race this only, balked?
Shall no to--morrow be? Shall the fair moon,
Her starry stations nightly accomplishing,
Threading in wavy orbit every sign,
Wax ne'er again; like us, safe housed within
The mansions of the immutable?
Festus. All souls,
One grand, one worldwide trial passed, shall glide
Into eternity as the awakening earth
Rounds towards the day re--risen. Our Lord, even now,
With knowledge fills of passed things and to come
The spirit by him forechosen; and as in cave
Caucasian, priest hereditary, tribe--led
At old year's end, thrice pacing the emerald walls
Those mystic offerings, none but he may, makes;
From off the central altar, rock--squared, lifts
The chalice golden chased, with drowsiest juice
Of bearded grain creaming, and from its hue,
Clear or beclouded; troublous or stirless state;
And savour sweet or acrid, to those round
Of time's forth--issuing seasons much divines,
Peace, life and plenty, dearth or death or war;--
So me hath God installed from time's full cup
At eve of earth's great year, to announce to man
Grief gone, pain passed, the day of general joy
And,--war, the world's worst curse rehomed in hell,--
The age of peace perennial.
Clara. Earth, as though
In forefeast of delight, and dimly limned
Grandeurs to come, looks wistful of a change
Brightening, dawnlike, man's mind, new--moralled.
Festus. Dream
Of perfectness too soon alas! to cease.
But better thus than as of old, when earth
Despairing lay, war--gored, by ignorance base
Blinded, and crushed by weight of despot crowns,
Piled on her panting bosom. Await thine hour,
Hopefully, earth. Peace, victress peace draws nigh.
The secret longings of the wise, deep based
On perfectness, fast ripening, leave joy's heart
Beggared of blessings not all heavenly. And now
Thrill with the audible advent of their fate,
Fate predetermined good, all lands; his boon
Last, loftiest, best, who all founds.
Clara. Ere the worlds,
Light was: ere light night ever--being, pierced
After by sun--stars; and world, light, and night
Spring up and cease, while God's word but matures.
Festus. Grinding the road of doom on worldlike wheels,
Time's coming coursers, day and night, I hear
Whirling the car of destiny. It comes.
The clouded dust of ages marks its track;
Now, lost in depths of space; a moment, mobbed
By noisy nations; now again, it hurls
All hindrance from its path. The gates of force,
The bars of hate and prejudice, in vain
Oppose. It thunders to my feet. Time's lord,
The sun, long sunk, that sober legacy
Of light he left the hour spent, too, night warns us
Clara. And I feel, with all these failing flowers,
Consentful. Nature hath to all things given
Her silent signal. Earth her thought--racked brow,
Racked to provide for all she is doomed to bear,
Pillows at God's feet; and to his diligent guard,
Her slumbering spirit commends.
Festus. We ours to him,
Like confident, as not cherished less, less watched,
At day's dawn, sun crowned noon, or eve. Me leaving
Somewhile, go, sacred consort of my soul;
This coring deepliest in thine heart; that they
Who love, know God, to his their wills conform
As mists to mountains, and, like one long trained
In loyal suit to nature, who forehears
In clouds the ripple of rills, as yet aërial
Which shall make glad the meads; who views in stars
The adoring awe their light shall sometime win
In eyes of unborn ages; so souls foregraced
By like gifts to conceive all scope of good
Heaven prophesies fulfilled, not only God
Indwell, but here participant of the joy
He in them feels, shall, dying, ever live!
Clara. May we so live we dread not here to die.
So die, we dread not afterward to live!
Festus. Now heaven be thanked, man's end henceforth can man
Calmly construe, note hopefully; and, seen,
Exist, at least, not miserably; our God,
By dread experience, known, of Hadëan realms,
No more, as falseliest once to impious thought,
Unjustest of all beings; indeed most just.
Yes, now I can behold the world nor breathe
The life--long sigh that I or any live;
That souls whose sins minute hell's fiery light
Taxed to make legible even in God's broad eye,
Should, cursing and accursed, their Maker's shame,
Live, deathless, inameliorable. Thank God!
God's realm hath no such scandal; boundless space
Hides no such horrible blot on nature's end;
A figment, which, if true, God were not God,
Man, man, nor fiend their enemy. As one
Who at ebb of tide, by treacherous underdraught
Sucked seawards, stealthily, tossed here, tossed there,
In death--play of the brutal surge, ere yet,
At turn, hurled landwards scornfully, wave on wave,
Each strenuously intending doom,--the foam,
Wide--spreading as his watery winding--sheet,
Eyes round him; and beyond, the infinite
Upper and lower, sees, of main and sky,
All pitilessly conclusive of his end;
And knows the elements oathed against him; knows
Nought with him, God except, and hope; at last,
Battling no more with breakers, even for breath,
Feels, as his feet insensitive drop, the sand,--
Friend unsuspect, unconscious, unbeheld,--
And with his heart's last life--beat, lifts again
His head from burying billows,--lifts, and lives;
As one who toiling up the burning slope,
High pitched, of cone vulcanic, soon to outpour,
Dread prelibation of earth's end, red floods
Fuellous, of lava, in God's cup of wrath
Slow brimming, till the ebullient dross, league--high,
Shoots up, hell spilling;--scorched by sun--fires; parched
By fumes sulphureous from above, by heat
Subterrene stifled; now, by stony showers,
Gleed--hot, imperilled, now by hissing streams
Of seething ore,--swoons, falls: but, once restored,
And, wistfulness returned, the healing ice
Loosed from his feverous forehead, as from crag
In spring, fall winter's snows,--conceives, towards God,
The rebegetter of his future, thanks
Such, and so vast, as might a nation feel,
From famine saved, or pest; so I, from sense
Of hell, mistaught by merciless ages passed,
Reproachful against God, the infinite love,
As scourging soul with self--perpetuate woe,
Firefloods eruptive of wrath endless, freed;
And knowing all things spiritual bettering aye,
Perfecting, growing worthier of God's thought,
Ever, by even disciplinary pains,
Can look now on the world if not with joy,
With trust of ultimate peace; so much hath search
Of truth, faith lowly but firm, and meditative
Perfection, profited me, as this to know;
That not till freed from soul--seductive cares
The longing for mere knowledge, greed of power,
Luxury, the world, and all its nothings, lures
To lead astray, I have lived to spurn or shun,
Can soul, by such disoriented, recur
To union with the Onemost spirit; nor e'er
Till all men's broken faiths remassed in one,
God's unity end, and man's vast brotherhood
Spread peaceful o'er the earth shall all partake
Faith's universal headship; war thenceforth,
Sacred or saecular, ceased for aye. For know,
While leonine tribes, which, desert--shrined, deem God
One sole: and while the art--loving races seized
With sense of deity through all things diffused,
And conscious of more complicated life,
Trace him, through nature's myriad--sided whole,
Trine--wise, or manifold, simple faith at last
Names the All--one; shows earth's all various creeds,
True in time's partial views each, in the eterne
One verity, same and whole. This truth to me
Blessed, who have visited all earth's holiest shrines,
And by alien ritual undeterred, have joined
My spirit in worship at all sacred feasts
Saying, God be hallowed here as allwhere, only;
Soul of the world! Source of all good, and end,
Teach us true worshippers to be,
Spirit in spirit, Lord! of thee;
Our soul's just judge, lover and lord of truth.
Men's piety reverencing in all earth's creeds,
In every sanctuary, his praise with prayer,
Parents of peace, I have found. To all who him
Love truly, and spiritually adore, he grants
Like favour, like delight. Nor needs for this,
So perfect commune, one revealing word
Soulwards, the spirit of God divinely dumb.
But as when, long winter passed, his fibrous veins
Stiff and contract with stormy cold, some oak,
Hallowed by patriot legend, and with birth
Of world--feared realm coëval, feels, one morn,
His tender leaflets buddening in the breeze,
And loosening in the light; hears himself breathe,
With self--felicitant murmur; waves his boughs
Towards every casual wing in welcome; laughs
To know himself alive; his gay, old heart,
Tingling 'neath spring's regenerative touch,
Swells with the sense already of worshipping praise
He through his shade shall reap from beasts and men,
Stretched grateful, at his huge roots, there to enjoy
Life's natural sacrament of rest; while round
His leafy tent prowl summer heats, in vain
Ravening; so, I, faith's festive light refound,
Live fourfold, and in this my soul, beyond
All world--force, feeling the' elements of heaven
Struggle for loftier and more perfect life,
Like--natured with the infinite, joy with joy
Speechless, as earth, when she God's smile returns.
Clara. But even if all mysterious rites thou hast learned,
The spirit's probation, and just progress; still,
Till pride of knowledge in the humility ends
Of wisdom; and all proud desires of power
In righteous service manwards, and to God,
Thou hast learned nought, and lived in vain.
Festus. I am one
Contented with his call, who knows the world
Progresses just as heretofore, by wrongs
Much, and by rights a little; who, possessed
By absolutest indifference to the run
Of fortune's and the world's blind turmoil, waits
His destined task, as mariner late storm--tossed,
By his beached boat stretched, swarthening in the sun,
Lists the quick creeping flood. I seem to have passed
All world--life, all desire. My blood fulfils
Its orbit as the stars their round in heaven
With a cool constancy even I admire.
What would my monitress? For the soul to have passed
Passion and doubt, twin helps, twin foes, and trust
Illimitably in God, who builds his heaven
On love, the life--link between himself and man;
And our immortal know the interior arc
Of his more vast eternal, seems true life,
Nor all unworthy of high intelligence;--
Which life attained the aspiring spirit shall find
Unselfish virtue's meed; the rational joy
And satisfaction just, to us accruing,
Of spiritual holiness which to us outsprings
Direct and radius--like from God's own heart,
Eternal therefore; and the gracious boon
Of infinite amendment fixed by God
On all free spirit though peccant, surely at last
Amenable, as imperfect, narrow, dark,
To suasions of the infinite perfect light;
Thence penitent and progressive; yes, to know
Him, the' universal being, in time deployed
Through forms innumerable, the all lifeful stars,
Globules that float through his galactic veins,
And yon spherebounding sea, the shimmering fringe
Of his broad skirts world--spangled, spread o'er space;
One self--evolving essence which all things
O'errules and underlies; the source eterne
Of all conceptive nature; to mere life
Life elemental, with the permanent flow
Of streams, and virtual immortality
Of mountains; to earth's annual growth the sense
Adding of animate instinct; but in man
Self--knowledge of the whole, its parts, plan, end,
Its author, and his own, whose advent here
Flesh hallows; in whose consciousness of sin,
And the ill, the imperfect, the inadequate
Attempts we make to realize truth and good,
Our finite thwarts the Infinite; and makes
The natural cross both suffer; but whose death,
When soul that's bound on earth is loosed in heaven,
Shows us the reascendant god, is life
Eternal, life celestial, life divine.
Clara. May such be ours!
Festus. Oh, may it! To me thy life
Redeems a long sad passed, and fills with sense
Of joy unutterable the brief to come.
As a fountain which from Andëan heights art--led
Into palatial gardens, massed with flowers,
Though far beguiled and long repressed, jets up
At last columnar, seeming so to express
Its own and nature's innocent glee; nor can,
Though of all rills simplest, secretest, conceal
Pre--eminency of source, but, 'gainst its will,
Itself encrowns with soft and scintillant snows
Of night--starred silence vindicative, and coy,
And colourless perfection of pure life,
Such as earth owns, heaven neighbouring; thus too, thou
To me, sweet, come, reanimatest the world
Howbeit not of thine element, and the soul
With recollection of celestial things
Serenest, only impartible from on high.

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

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