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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 Hence. 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.
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