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Philip James Bailey (Филип Джеймс Бэйли)

Festus - 39

Much of the passed is prophecy; and now,
All done, ambition earns his wage, earth's throne,
Throne than all empires wider: proof and prize
Indisputable of peace. A social change
Being wrought, with that like vast in nature's prime,
When the elements less gross than air, condensed
Into mountainous levels, broad footholds made themselves
Of nations,--figuring forth the fateful mind
Pacific, all controlling, war, and worse,
Could worse be, in life's penultimate age. What war
World wide and through all time had failed to achieve,
Sage peace with sensitive hand unseen, wins. Love,
Of mortal things last, nestles within the heart.
Ambition ruined by success; doubt's last
Attack, see, crushed; for though to the edge of hell
Despair bring one self--blindfold, yet turns not
Ours, heaven affianced, false to God, who tries
All spirits; and this, from its own ruin at last,
Like a flag storm--torn, fluttering from its staff,
Evanishing, saves. Earth's elements discohere.
A Gathering of Kings and Peoples.
Festus throned; Lucifer, and Clara.
Festus. Princes and Peoples! Powers once of earth!
It suits not that I point to ye the path
I trode to reach this sole supreme domain--
This mountain of all mortal might. Enough,
That I am monarch of the world--the world.
Let all acknowledge loyally my laws,
And love me as I them love. It will be best.
No rise against me can stand. I rule of God;
And am God's sceptre here. Think not the world
Is greater than my might--less than my love--
Or that it stretcheth further than mine arm.
Kings! ye are kings no longer. Cast your crowns
Here--for my footstool. Every power is mine.
Nobles! be first in honour. Ye, too, lose
Your place, in place: retrieve yourselves in good.
Peoples! be mighty in obedience.
Let each one labour for the common weal.
Be every man a people in his mind.
Kings--nobles--nations! love me and obey.
I need no aid--no arms. Burn books--break swords!
The world shall rest, and moss itself with peace.
Kings. Tyrant, we love thee not; and we as one
Man will resist thee.
Festus. Well I know it. Mark!
Ye are all nations, I a single soul.
Yet shall this new world order outlast all.
Behold in me the doomsman of your race.
Will, reason, passions, all shall serve and aid,
Yea your most secret qualities and powers.
Not by the mandate of the mass as wont,
In times gone by for aye, to mark the elect
Of popular will; not by sublime descent
From conquering kings, sit I here; but of God
Called, and of wise men's wisdom, and the force
Supreme of reason, and law of serving love
Intituled and acknowledged, name me lord.
Nobles. Reason rebels against thee, and condemns
Tyrant and slave alike; exalting this,
Deposing that, adjusting all; as yet
Hope we and mean to do with thee and these.
Festus. And seek ye to gainstand the faith in God?
O blindest rulers! will ye never learn
Your proper region and due dominance?
Whatever ye rule I rule over you.
All unobstructed power is sanctified.
Divine rule is a tyranny of good.
Mine shall be like it. Tyrant! Well; I am.
I glory in the title; reverence
Myself, for that it is accorded me.
What is above this soul of mine but heaven?
Peoples. The opposite of rule divine is best
For man. Power gives temptation, which in turn
Sets aside honour, social duty, law,
And right; creates abuse, and abuse strife,
Confusion, retribution, bloodshed, sin.
Though for a season cloud and meteor, sign
Of transient action midst eternal calm,
Usurp the heights of air, yet soon the stars
Their peaceful reign resume; and now at last,
Since earth hath wiser waxed, the people theirs.
Therefore descend thou and make room for us;
Or else thy powers submit to perfect proof,
And our approval, ratified by all.
Lucifer. These are the proud divisors of times passed,
Brought forward to futurity: the seed
Of souls which live to sow dissension; souls
Who would suspend upon a cable's strand,
A continent of cavil. Go, good friends.
A mightier contest than ye dream, and like
To task all craft acuminous, waits ye yet.
While hangs the world together, these lack not.
Festus. Nations! behold the day of gladness, long
Craved by all righteous souls, the day of peace,
The feast--day of the Eternal. Sun, main, sky,
Beaming each one with God's reflected love,
Their vast content, united, smile. And now
When in these times, earth's latest days, the sea,
His ancient sites revindicate, reigns supreme
O'er all time's storied states, and powers renowned
Of antique policy, heirless empires, cleansed
By God's liege element from the blood of wars,
Sacred and most iniquitous, at the shrines
Poured, of false gods, to this terrene upheaved
Freshliest, and counter--shadowy, where young earth
Unannalled, undefiled, demands as dower
The mighty and immaculate future; now
When heaven round other star than sung of old
Rolls peaceful; star of conquered death, the lyre's
Bright paramount; when, with swift and easy shock,--
As toiling traveller from his shoulder shifts
Towards the day's end, his burthen,--earth shakes off
Her overpoise of old beliefs and stale
Traditions; and with slope celestial trimmed
To happier influences,--still find we things,
Conform to reason most, by the mass most spurned;--
Sad leaven of our original self--defect.
Peoples. This newest order of things us suits not.
Festus. Nay,
Ask not how long 'twill last. Meanwhile, enjoy;
Reap all the harvest peace and power can give
Freedom and nature perfected. Let all
Good plans benevolence longs to realize,
Not yet accomplished be achieved. For what
Beside, were boundless power, and peace assured,
One only polity, one sole faith?
Peoples. We trow not.
We, more than half, throw back the whole thou'dst give;
Want not thy boons, nor thee; would say farewell.
Lucifer. Their honey smacks of rue, or I mistake.
Festus. Man's conscience is an angel or a fiend,
According to his deeds. What have I done?
I was the youngest born of destiny,
The favourite of fate, and fortune's heir;
My word for once was law and prophecy.
Speak, spirit! have I forfeited my star?
Lucifer. Storms give to dust a privilege to rise,
And fly in all men's faces--even kings'!
Peoples. Monarch, thou rulest nought. We will thee not.
Festus. What if a million molehills were to league
Their meannesses together, with due pomp,
And to some mountain say,--In the name of God!
Whither dost thou aspire? Does any deem
That great imperial creature would descend
From those sublimest solitudes of air,
Where it had dwelt in snowy sanctity,
For ages, ere the mud--made world below
Was more than half conceived, to parley there
At its own footstool, and lay down its crown,
And elemental commune with the skies,
Because its height was so intolerable,
And its supremacy termed tyranny?
Why look ye all amort? Is doomsday come?
Stand forth, and speak, sole servant of my throne!
If aught thou hast to settle and explain--
Or straightway send these nations to their homes.
Peoples. Our home is where we rule and are content.
Lucifer. Ye mighty once--ye many weak, give ear!
I and my god--for god he sure must be,
In human form, who sitteth there enthroned--
For readier rule, and for the good of all,
Have cast again the dynasties of earth
According to the courses of the air:--
Therefore, from east, and west, and north, and south,
Four kings ministrant element--like shall bend
Before his feet. Hearken, thou unkinged crowd!
Ye have not sought the good of those ye governed.
The people only for the people care.
Ye seem to have thought earth but a ball for kings
To play with: rolling the royal bauble, empire,
Now east--now west. Your hour and power is past.
Ye are the very vainest of mankind,
As loftiest things weigh lightest. Ye are gone!
Nations, away with them! Nor do ye boast!
Ye find that power means not good, not bliss.
But ye would wed delusion:--now, ye know her.
And she is yours for life--and death--and judgment.
There is no power, nor majesty, save his:
His is the kingdom of the world and glory.
His throne is founded centre--deep by heaven;
And the whole earth doth bless him, and approve
With proud assent, one--minded. As the sun
Fresh risen from hallowing waters which his touch
In turn reconsecrates, by slow ascent,
Persistent, but inevitable, assumes
The zenith, and in judgment throned, his seat,
As standard of all height, gives earth, gives heaven,
To each the same scale, this, your liege, for you
For all, lays down one perfect, level, law,--
His will; and he, at will, will turn the world
As light turns earth round. Greet your lord, and go!
Festus. All silent! Do they understand?
Lucifer. Why, yes,
They hold thy gain their loss; that's all.
Festus. O men!
O brethren! deathless mortals, hear me once!--
Listen, ye nations! would ye learn how stands
Your great accompt with those, earth's choice, who me
Have chosen, attend, while I times passed unfold,
Time present, times to come. Men all are born
To serve or rule; no harm, if they who rule
Most, the most serve. To this end I, self--vowed,
Elect of heaven, casting in mind how best
I could man benefit; and soul--grieved to know
Of doubts that in one's fellows' hearts and ours
Dare wretchedly God's being ignore, oft mouthed
By mock philosophy, I, self--sworn to seek
All truth through nature, region none of life,
Inner or outer spared; while through all forms
Material, through the world's broad elements,
All science, graduating, have traced; and joyed,
My way, through fires sphere--cored, the hearth of things
And the atlantëan axis of the world,
Where played time's brood, archaic, fought; air's heights,
And all the undescribed circumference,
Where earth's thick breath thins off to blankest space,
Scaled; ocean's stormy baptistery, world--walled,
Sounded, and trode the high exhilarant snows,
Sparkling like star--dust; while all form extreme
Of socialty, rude, polished, tested, I
One sense of law, in all, one law of right
Finding, one sanctity of blood, proof sure
To man of like rise, end; and while in all
These elements of conclusion joyed to trace
All--where, the god--print of one bounteous hand
Omnific, predisposant: nor, less proof,
Marking of power than love; to view o'er all
Spread the wide wing of God propitiable,
Answerer of prayer, inspirer; in all need
The Lord of provident goodness, by pure hearts
Neared only, and spirit imbued with love of God
And man; a spirit which, sinning, seeks through faith
And penitence, re--access to him the One
Invariable, whose wordless name, as taught
By him, all orders of existence serves
To fraternize, all worlds, all souls unites;
Nor, labouring to this end, though pleased to see
Science, in all her walks, keep step with faith,
Each purifying the other, can soul content,
Through nature's sensible rudiments to have passed
Fruitless, unless in heart, grace--taught; but aye
Wretched to view faith's vast divergences,
One only true 'mong men, to me it came,
As duty and end inspired, to seek in all
The essential verity which, to each germane,
All linking, permeated. This hoped, through all
Soul--culture of the passed, and sacred creeds,
Initiative on earth of life divine,
From earliest days,--whose ruinous relics still
Astound, not, sole, through many a faith extinct,
I pilgrim--wise have toiled, but many a fane
Now silent, solitary, save by the sun
Uneyed, unvisited, save by the elements,
With patient foot have trodden; in rock--slabbed tomb,
For the living built as though to expiate sins
Titanic; cell sepulchral midst the moor
For penitence reared or rites regenerative
Of aspirant soul; in stony ark on hill
Piled giant--wise, have knelt, heart--racked, to wring
From those dumb rocks their secret, petrified
Long years since, what their stone of fate, hard by,
And intersecting circles of good and ill,
Mutation, destiny, life, imported; chair
Piacular, scooped from cliff wherein to outwatch
The moon, or trace some fateful birth star end
Its skiey arc, oft rapturous pressed; in these,
Fanes roofless, wandering, stretched o'er heathy downs,
And pillared crags ranged rudely ring--wise, rough,
Shapeless, or shaped like clouds, men's first essay
To circumscribe the infinite, and one spot
Make holier than the rest where God is all;
Have bowed me 'neath the mystic moon, and prayed
Before the altar, hoary, meteoric, once
Encrowned with fire the flood quenched; and these quit
For Parian shafted shrines, shrines such as born
To mount Pentelic, parent of white fanes,
Commemorate in earth's choicest lore, to light,
To wisdom, sacred, to heaven's Lord; or such,
Columnar as illume the broadening sands
Round Tchelminar or Balbeck, to the sun,
Hallowed of old; and thence to those cross--based
Which cloudward towered, or domed, here consecrate
The principle of divine self--sacrifice,
Passing, have in them all, all found, at core,
Identic;--heart prostrate with hand uplift,
Professed man's creed eternal;--God is God;
Nought else; the Infinite, the Eternal, one;
All provident nature is his prophet; man
His son from him first issuant back returns
To him by virtue, and moral light; his law
Is pure and righteous; in its practice, peace
Wisdom, salvation are. He, God, is love;
But just both when he punishes and forgives.
Him fear, obey, love, worship. Of all faiths
The essence thus in mine own spirit summed
In fanes both old and new, I, with all rites,
The world--presiding deity, dared to adore,
And knew such service acceptable;--nor less
That God's name ye might know as Love, not Fear;
That hope and not despair might rule your souls
Conceptive of the future life; that war
Earth's vastest curse might cease, and peace the path
Prepare of justice, know, my task hath been,
By secret rites and sacred, many a year,--
As might a river subterrene through caves
Abysmal, issue sunwards seek--to gain
Such light of truth as, lightening soul, might all
Advantage in the scale of being; with sense
Of wisest justice competent to reframe
On base right equitable man's social life;
With saving trust in God, the infinite mind,
Simplest of faiths and the sole true; with arms
Of purest piety in prayer's fervent fires
Wrought indestructible, so to encrown man's soul
That nought of good, save angelhood, scarce remains
For men to attain, that, well nigh reached; and helped
By sagest souls who, operating unseen
As nature's forces, in one law supreme
Have wrought of faith and life, and all good ends
Knotting in one, in me have all success
Crowned; and all this for you.
Peoples. Thee, king of earth,
We want not, nor await we thy projects.
War when we would, and when war--wearied, peace;
Fair conquest and fair risk we rather love
Than peace enforced, forced union.
Festus. Ye who speak
Are not the whole.
Peoples. We are most.
Festus. Alas for man!
No hope. This grand reunion lasts no more
Than my day. Seer, sage, saint, have wrought in vain.
Thought's pettiest differences are cherished more
Than truth's most vast congruities. In vain
It seems, to have oped the way to truth, and peace,
And reason's sacred cabinet, wherein all
Earth's wise might make their conclave, and the world
Rule bodily, spiritually; in vain to have passed
Through pains and perils without end, to earn
For man the attainable results he spurns;
Peace universal, one pure simple faith,
Through lifts of soul, successive, whence its view
Widened and purified can clearlier hold
Manhood's test, virtue; and for all inspired
With love their kind to enlighten, and with proof
Perfective of each soul to serve its race
By loving God, and well--doing.
Peoples. Be it so.
Good will we not by these means to such end.
Others. We, king, we homage thee. In thee content,
We hail the great designs of God fulfilled.
Thee for no other end than man to serve,
Enlighten, free in mind, he here hath placed.
Thee for our joy, our perfectness we take,
Our seal of earth's companionship with heaven;
Our hope and our accomplished proof of good.
His laws the only miracles being knows,
And these because from nothingness his will
Evoked them; matter powerless, lawless; time,
Extent, life, mind, the infinite whole his own
Blessed spirit diffused through space, and made all good.
Festus. Knowledge re--oned now with belief, while men
Deem diversely of lesser ends, God's law
Moral and natural, through man's mean evolved,
Or demonstrate, him shows like kind and wise.
The world hath but just now full use attained
And seisin of its happiest privilege;
For as one who unremembering somewhat seeks
He hath never truly lost, and at last knows
Haply in his hand or bosom, so the world,
God seeking, finds but in those inner heavens,
That peaceful and perfectible nature, man
Long missed, but, recollective, in his breast
Divinely implaced perceives; and now, of self
Recognizant, by true means, ends true achieves.
Lucifer. Be it! If peace content not mighty man,
What can? For as the people cannot rule
Themselves, so neither may a crowd of kings.
And hence hath been the evil of the world;
Now ceased for ever. War will be no more.
His is the sway of social sovereign peace.
His tyranny is love and good to all.
His is the vice--royed, vouchsafed, reign of God.
Festus. What wouldst thou angel--guard? for I feel thee near.
Guardian Angel. Mortal, the end draws nigh. Prepare! For thus
God justifies his ways and manifests
His equitable forecounsel, told in heaven.
Lucifer. Depart ye nations!
Festus. Hark! thou fiend, dost hear?
Lucifer. Ay! it is the death groan of the sons of men--
Thy subjects--King!
Festus. Why hadst thou this so soon?
O men! O brethren! turn your souls to God.
Lucifer. Why wish the world's conversion? Presently
God will fulfil the thousands known from first,
Whose apex soul alone is lacking, thine.
It is God who brings it all about--not I.
Festus. I am not ready--and--it shall not be!
Lucifer. I cannot help it, monarch! and--it is!
Hast not had time for good?
Festus. One day--perchance.
Lucifer. Then hold that day as an eternity.
Festus. All around me die. The earth is one great death--bed.
Lucifer. Time's tide is nearly out, and sick folk die.
Clara. Oh! save me, Festus! I have fled to thee,
Through all the countless nations of yon dead--
For well I knew it was thou who sattest there,
To die with thee, if that thou art not death:
And if thou wert, I would not shrink from thee.
I am thine own, own Clara!
Festus. Thou art safe!
Here in the holy chancel of my heart--
The heavenly end of this our fleshly fane,
I hold thee to communion. Rest thee safe.
Clara. Men thought I was an angel, as I passed;
And caught up at my feet--but I 'scaped all.
I knew I should die by thee: the soul that loves
Soul--wise alone gives forth true oracles.
Festus. Then there is faith among these mortals yet.
Thy beauty cometh first, and goeth last--
Willow--like. Welcome!
Clara. Oh! I am so happy!
Festus. I speak of thee as of the dead;--the dead
Are alway faithful.
Clara. I will stay with thee--
Though angels beckon--may I? Let me, love!
I dare not--cannot, take mine eyes from thee,
For fear of looking on the dead. Dear Festus!
I think of thee as when I loved thee first;
For all time since, even as the ebbing sea
Falls in its rise, and loses in its gain,
My heart ne'er passed that hour. It soothes me now.
Festus. Well, too, I mind me of that day; a day
Fragrant from first to last with sunny flowers;
Of cloudless light, of cloudless love; it passed:
Eve came; the dewy night stole forth, dim--veiled;
Arcturus, heavenly oxherd, bowed his knee
Star--cusped, upon the hill, as though with all
His worlds he worshipped God; his conquering head
Bowed 'neath the orb--gemmed crown, hollow with heaven,
God o'er him holds as one who had striven with God,
And gained the day o'er deity. Oh! no more!
Shall we not mind us of that day in heaven?
Thou art the only one hast answered me,
Love to love--life to life.
Clara. Oh! I am dying!
The heavens are pressing down upon me. God
My father seeks the spirit of his child.
Festus. Go, golden lily, bloom thou on the breast
Of everlasting sanctity.
Clara. Farewell!
Give me one kiss--the kiss of life and death--
The only taste of earth I will take to heaven.
Here! let me die, die in it!
Festus. Last and best!
Now am I one again. Oh! memory runs
To madness, like a river to the sea.
These long illustrious tresses, gold of gold,
Yea, very gold of very gold, which here
Insult all thought of limit; to my touch
Dearer than were the sceptre of the sun,
Wave me no more bright welcome; and these lips,
Whose animated silence sweetlier told
Than talk of other angel, move no more
In silence or in sound; these bright brown eyes,
Still as extinguished stars, no more reflect
The virtues of the heavens. Man's world of old,
Began with woman, mother of all life;
And, after countless ages, now, with thee,
Bride of my soul, death's youngest daughter, ends.
Our union is, and hath been, most in mind,
That perfect, yea, that hallowed; and I end,
As I began, sole as the sun in heaven.
Happy as heaven have I, love, been with thee!
Thine innocent heart hath passed through a pure life,
Like a white dove, wing--sunned through the blue sky.
A better heart God never saved in heaven.
She died as all the good die--blessing--hoping.
There are some hearts aloe--like, flower once, and die
And hers was of them.--Thrall art thou and free:
Free of immortal life though bound of death.
Not the emotional surface of the sea,
Whose form from things without is ta'en, but more
The deep essential quiet of its bed,
Thy soul resembled in the pure profound.
Thy love to me was as the morning dew,
Earth's liquid jewellery, wrought of air,
Young nature's christening; whose every bead,
Round as the globular genesis of things,
And bright as heaven's own gems in diamond set,
Emblemed its pure perfection o'er this heart;
Now sun parched, thunder scorched; yet stricken thus,
Feeling myself each hour, each pulse--beat drawn,
More mightily drawn, to join and glory in
All being's everlasting sense of God.
I see the universe made clear with light,
Holy with spirit, pure with deity;
Man the dear son of God to God returned,
And earth's renascent nature throned in heaven.
The voice of ages, syllabled in suns,
Pronounces God's unceasing benison
Upon his bright creation. Time is touched
On all hands by the Eternal: and the world
Is bounded, rounded, ended but by heaven.
Therefore the soul, in death resilient, looks,
Backwards to whence its impulse came, to God;
And all things lovely and divine that here
It loved in spirit, are too, with it conjoined,
And mingled with the future of the stars,
And blissful occupation of all space.
As, pending time, the passed and future cause
Chief reasons, and the present but a point,
So in eternity all's presentness.
Hence therefore from me now all thoughts of earth;
Be they as in a lake of lightning quenched;
In lone annihilation lie entombed;
And memory's pall be buried with the bier.
There lies my soul's sole love: and lo! all life,--
In such time as the pale self--flattering moon,
Who loves to see her likeness in all lakes,
Hath ta'en from her first starlike peep above
The hill, to free wholly her silvery breast,
Her upper and her lower limbs of light,
From dark, detentive earth, and, spurned all ties,
Of all attractions 'sdeignful, southening, soars
Calm, but unpiteous, heavenward,--life hath ceased;
And silence reads the dead world's burial tale.
And death sits quivering, there, and watering
His great gaunt jaw at me. When must I die?
Lucifer. Say! dost thou feel to be mortal or immortal?
Festus. Away!--and let me die alone.
Lucifer. I go:--
And I will come again: but spare thee, now,
One hour, to think--
Festus. On all things. God, my God!
One hour to sum a life's iniquities!--
One hour to fit me for eternity--
To make me up for judgment and for God!--
Only one hour to curse thee! Nay, for that,
There may be endless hours. God! I despair,--
And I am dying. Let me hold my breath!
I know not if I e'er may draw another.
I feel death blowing hard at the lamp of life.
My heart feels filling like a sinking boat;
It will soon be down--down. What will 'come of me?
It is as I always wished it;--I shall die
In darkness, and in silence, and alone.
Even my last wish is petted. God! I thank thee;
It is the earnest of thy coming--what?
Forgiveness? Let it be so: for I know not
What I have done to merit endless pain.
Is pleasure crime? Forbid it, God of bliss!
Who spurn at this world's pleasures, lie to God;
And show they are not worthy of the next.
What are thy joys we know not--nor can we
Come near thee in thy power, nor truth nor justice;
The nearest point wherein we come towards thee,
Is loving--making love--and being happy.
Thou wilt not chronicle our sandlike sins;
For sin is small, and mean, and barren. Good,
Only, is great, and generous, and fruitful.
Number the mountains, not the sands, O God!
God will not look as we do on our deeds;
Nor yet as others. If he more condemn,
Shall he not more approve? A few fair deeds
Bedeck my life, like gilded cherubs on
A tomb, beneath which lies dust, decay, and darkness.
But each is better than the other thinks.
Thank God! man is not to be judged by man;--
Or, man by man the world would damn itself.
What do I see? It is the dead. They rise
In clouds! and clouds come sweeping from all sides,
Upwards to God: and now they all are gone--
Gone, in a moment, to eternity.
But there is something near me.
Spirit. It is I.
Festus. Go on! I follow, when it is my time.
Not perfect yet the complement of heaven.
There is no shadow on the face of life:
It is the noon of fate. Why may not I die?
Methinks I shall have yet to slay myself.
I am calm now. Can this be the same heart
Which slept when sleep it did from dizziness,
And pure rapidity of passion, like
The centre circlet of the whirlpool's wheel?
The earth is breaking up; all things are thawing.
River and mountain melt into their atoms;
A little time, and atoms will be all.
The sea boils; and the mountains rise and sink
Like marble bubbles, bursting into death.
O thou Hereafter! on whose shore I stand--
Waiting each toppling moment to engulf me--
What am I? Say, thou Present!--say, thou Past!
Ye three wise children of Eternity!
A life?--a death?--and an immortal?--all?
Is this the threefold mystery of man?
The lower, darker Trinity of earth?
It is vain to ask. Nought answers me--not God.
The air grows thick and dark. The sky comes down.
The sun draws round him streaky clouds, like God
Gleaning up wrath. Hope hath leapt off my heart,
Like a false sibyl, fear--smote, from her seat,
And overturned it. I am bound to die.
Why wait, then, here, as an o'erfreighted cloud,
Abandoned by its lightlier winged convoy,
Lags, in some shadowy hollow of the hills,
Scapeless, till death, how dilatory! dissolve.
God! why wilt thou not save? The great round world
Hath wasted to a column beneath my feet.
I will hurl me off it, then; and search the depth
Of space, in this one infinite plunge! Farewell!
To earth, and heaven and God! Doom! spread thy lap;
I come--I come. But no! may God forbear,
To judge the tempted purpose of my heart!
Me hath he stablished here, and he will save;
And I can smile destruction in the face.
Let his strong hand compress the marble world,
And wring the starry fire--blood from its heart;
Still on this earth--core I rejoice in God;
I know him and believe in him as Love,
And this divinest truth he hath inspired,
Mercy to man is justice to himself.
To have held the truth is something, maybe. Yes!
As when in time's remote, even life's gay youth,
Adventurous, tramping upland tracts, towards eve,
Following the sun from rise to rise we spring,
And clearing just this eminence now, now that,
Stretch quick our stride, and hold him yet in heaven,
Nor let depart till certain quite he has marked
As cognizant witness, how we have toiled to keep
His golden company, so one sole truth
God in the soul, attested, glorified,
Pursued through life, I feel, hold still at last
Supreme, consolatory. It lights me here;
And will, till nature's night. But now compute
Thy deeds unwise, thy wasted times and means,
Disservice of the pure, the true, and judge
Thyself condemnable, if in part alone;
Judge justly, judge impartially. But how?
Like to the mighty leaves of light, shook off
Autumnal from the tree of time, which strew
In stormy incandescence the sun's heart,
My thoughts, confusedly burning, waste away
This world--enlightener. Soul, what hast thou done?
Hast brought forth a new God, or all the heavens
Stripped of their shining shams and shown the true?
Earth's spiritual idols hurled to hell?
Behold them, ghosts of gods, the evanishing reek
Of lights extinguished. I have seen them all
Huddled in Hades; lives that live no more,
Fast fading into sheer nonentity.
Hast thou, with all things granted to thy wish,
Wrought out thy sovereign end, to warm the world
To worship, love, pure life, thy solar will?
Thy heaven--wide mark, thine universal aim?
Alas! how futile action weighed 'gainst thought!
What mountainlike conceptions swell the mind!
What monumental molehills we achieve!
O grief, O woe, that I so much have thought
Of self; of God so little. Yet to know
Him, holy, gracious, giver of all good,
Forgiver of all evil, were surely enough
To sate the insatiable. In him we rest,
Our spiritual universe, in him
Move, as the self--revolving orbs in heaven.
And O! thou strange mysterious universe,
Eternal, unconceived, star--studded heaven,
Who art in God, and God in thee; and we
Of both, and in both, sovereign slaves of law,
Founded we know not or by whom, or how;
Canst thou not aid us to conceive ourselves,
Atoms of thine entirety, double--natured,
But powerless separate, seeing only this;
Matter, if indestructible, always was,
And aye must be; mind, too, if force defined;
And though immortal both, yet vital only
And individual, when by laws combined?
What then? Are unintelligent laws alone
The rulers of the universe, and God
A metaphysic fiction; am I God;
As bud, tree rudimental? As a seal's
Reverse impression, signifying yet
One only meaning, spelling one same word?
As part material, objective to God?
As immaterial, subjective with him?
As thus, of both symbolic, in myself,
An abstract of the infinite, the whole?
No difference 'tween the all and God, but this,
Active and passive deity! O man!
O sacred nature, all divine! In vain
We seek more light than that we see by. Nought
Explaineth death but death, nor life but life;
Whether perpetuate in more brilliant spheres,
Or fined and heightened simply into heaven;
Communion with the spirit of infinite life,
All present reason, and eternal right,
Hailed by each natural mind as God, the good,
The wise, the holy, the all--blessing. Hence,
God is to man both God unknown and known.
The known we love; but the unknown, although
We name it non--existent, still we fear;
And fearing everything, fear nothing most.
As 'mid sky--crowning halo, the wan moon,
Like an enchantress in her charmèd ring,
By recusant daemons scared, her wheel of light
Widens, to fend her from wind--striding storms,
Threatful of death, in vain; she knows all; sees
The coming cloud which blots her out of heaven;
So, too, my soul, affrayed, but firm, foreknows
The fatal end of all things. Yet, why fear?
Great nature is my mother and my friend;
When God comes down from heaven he dwells with her.
Hers is the house of mourning and of mirth;
Feasting and fasting go on side by side;
The song of bridals and the dirge of death,
And wail of birth, are aye beneath her roof.
She brings her children to their father's knee.
These he rebukes, rewards those; judges all.
To all he shows their union with himself,
And those he loves best, takes, from time to time,
Back to his heavenly hall. Thus, now we know,
As 'tween the sun and earth light's spectral bond
Proves both like--essenced, concrete of one force
Reduplicate, parental; so we find
The elemental thoughts of God and man
One; the same self--constituent truths are ours.
Ours is his justice, his our love, though based
On grander and more sure foundations; heaven
We share in doing good and willing well;
In blessing, bettering, pardoning others here,
His universal throne.
Guardian Angel. Go, reign with him.
Festus. My confessor art thou, O God, alone.
Soon all the shows of nature shall depart,
And nought not one with deity, goodness, love,
Peace, righteousness, and divine humanity,
Yea, nought but the eternal be for aye.
He his hand opened and the world was born.
He shuts it, and the essential nothingness
Embodied, dies its everlasting death,
The infinite conclusion of all things.
Open thine arms, O death! thou fine of woe,
And warranty of bliss! I feel the last
Red mountainous remnant of the earth give way.
The stars are rushing upwards to the light;
My limbs are light, and liberty is mine.
The spirit's infinite purity consumes
The sullied soul. Eternal destiny
Opens its bright abyss. I am God's!
God. Man, die!

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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