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Philip James Bailey (Филип Джеймс Бэйли)


Festus - 18.2


Student. Yes!
Experience of an age may yield an hour's
Contentment; of an hour, an age's awe.

Festus.  'Tis nature's silent miracles most convince,
Most bless, most elevate the soul.

Helen. And yet
While doubtless, these experiences the passed
And present tend to reconcile with ends
Future, still much inexplicable remains
Of ordinary existence, and the fates
Suffered in soul, in person, here.

Student. Perchance
We expiate here in pains, faults of passed lives,
And all our joys are but rewards.

Festus. It may be.
We meet with mysteries everywhere in life,
That, could we solve!--as oft, from tide--stormed crag,
Some desperate rock, surge--hounded, that, at bay,
Faces his white--jawed foes, a wave--path, clear
Mid ruffling seas, scarce tremulous, we discern,
Seeming significative; which neither knows
Beginning of extension, nor fixed end;
Which marches not with cliff on high, nor reef
Below; to no cloud answers; no vague keel
Cut accidently; nor desultory gust
Scored; but aye exquisite to the wondering eye,
Searchful of all substantive cause,--so close
To the secret truth we burn once,--keeps in calm
Tenacity, its unfathomed force of form;
Until, the gaze glanced off, tired, or divert
Casually, we miss, nor ever can regrasp
The grand identity; so, too, mid the world
We trace, we think, at times, God's ways, the more
Pondered, the plainlier manifest; but through
Fatuity, or mere mutable conceit,
Faith's failure, or, what not? we lose in life's
Wide weltering waste the track, which followed, might
Have led, if not to perfectness, to peace.

Helen.  Methinks I too have missed this perfect way;
Else wherefore am I troubled this to know,
Or that, when knowing is so vastlier less
Than being? And can it be, I am being here
Tested and proved, through life? Cares great, cares small,
Indifferent, trusted to me hour by hour,
And note of treatment taken? It cannot be.
And yet it may. One's faith indeed so warns,
It is. Who sins against his better light
Sins sadly. Still the sense oppresses me
Of life so cast.

Student. Nay, here are twain will vouch
Thy perfectness at least: and 'gainst all comers.

Helen. Hush! seest thou none beside thee?

Festus. Who is here?
I parted from thee but an hour since.

Student. I
But an hour since parted from thee.

Festus. Why so soon?

Lucifer. So soon? I have traversed earth.

Festus. Ah! good. No more.
Let us within, friends. Soon the stars and dews
Will take our places. Pray, precede, dear Helen.
Enchant--thou canst--thy company--so that me
They miss not for an hour or twain.

Helen. But how
Deceive myself?

Festus. Forget me, too.

Helen. That word
Deserves no answer.

Student. None?

Festus. Adieu.

Helen. Be sure
When next we meet, we'll be less grave.

Student. Meanwhile
To tasks beneficent, Festus, thou and I
Reserved, let haste. Oh, earth is ripening fast
But hiddenly to happier ends than e'er
Saint, social seer, or politic sage hath hoped:
One brief creed, simple and of necessity true;
One moral code, in every land the same,
Which, justice realised, shall be each man's good,
And all men's joy; one law, one general rule;
The world one state, and peace perpetual.

Marian. Heaven
Grant it may be.

Festus. I come. Good friend; do thou
The requisite dispositions to these ends
Prepare. I follow.

Student. I obey.

Festus. And now;--
Wherefore hast sought me here?

Lucifer. This but to say;
Summoned to farthest space for a time, I come,
Hail and farewell to bid thee.

Festus. Nay, not thus
Part we. I would with thee.

Lucifer. Reflect.

Festus. I do.
I would see heaven.

Lucifer. Behold.

Festus. Would enter heaven.

Lucifer. Retire into thyself.

Festus. I would see God.

Lucifer. He is the Invisible.

Festus. And I?

Lucifer. Thou art
The insatiable. Arise with me.

Festus. I rise.

Festus - 18.1



Philip James Bailey's other poems:
  1. Festus - 35
  2. Festus - Proem
  3. Festus - 17
  4. Festus - 41
  5. Festus - 4


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