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Poem by Philip James Bailey


Festus - 35


Our first, our last, by heavenly fates impelled;
We again meet; warned by the Spirit progressive, learn,
Not man's design, mere compromise of good
With ill, nor ill's, infeasible most, approves
Celestial polity. Reason's plea, here shown
Of gravity less than virtue's; virtue's, there,
Convictive less than reason's. What the twain,
Unversant in fate's ultimate laws, reject,
Grace gratulative enjoins. Not separate life,
But oned, perfection's source.
An Oratory. Daybreak.
Clara and Angela.
Clara. I have erred, not sinned. My soul in faith assured,
Feels conscious of acceptance, and of prayer,
Night long companion of the stars, fulfilled.
Relief and surety come on day's broad wing.
My spirit, fountainlike, of the present full,
O'erflowing with the future, life hath all
I ever asked. God shriven then, be it mine
What once I failed in to amend; to undo
The wrong and do the right. Thee thank I, Lord!
For this repose of spirit, this sense of peace
By thine approof made holy. Hear I not,--
Fanning the calm of morn with sensible beat,
The musical movement of an angel's wing,
Vibrant with spheral airs? Nay, on my heart
I feel the hint of a bodiless hand, as rose
Wind--ruffled, might some pitying finger feel
Its leaflets smoothening. Sweetened by seraph's breath,
And scent of saintly garments seems the air.
Speak, spirit! for sure I am, one circleth me
In narrowing ring, and swiftening folds, as erst
Rounded the worshipping priest, of primal faith,
His arrowy rock, sun--sainted. Voice thyself,
Angel!
Angela. The spirit of her, thine earliest friend
Am I.
Clara. Thy best--belovèd, say.
Angela. Best loved. I
Thy trials, tears and sighs have numbered all
Since the sad day thou followedst to the tomb
The form once dearest to thy sisterly heart.
Deem not thyself uncared by me, when first
A desolate heart embodied, with pale arms
Outstretched to the pitiless world, and stern quatrain
Of elements, thou well nigh met'st fate half--way;
Nor think I have never marked thy course through life,
Most like a weeping and dishevelled cloud
Trailing its forlorn honours o'er the sea
Rude, reckless, unsympathetic, till it reach
Time's western gates which, passed, ope but one way;--
Nor eyed thee from woe's waves soul--whelming, seize
The pearl of spiritual content which yet
Thine angel brow shall light, as it hath earned
The approving love of saints in heaven who watch
O'er two estranged hearts, in whose union earth
Her summing good awaits. His spirit who still
Loves thee, thou yet shalt bless; and, ere the end,
Thine hallowing, will I guide unto his breast,
God guiding me. For he himself foreknown
Knoweth, called, chosen, but oh! not sanctified
Not perfected, nor of saints celestial peer
While yet one selfish thought otherwards dims
The soul presumptuous, or with one wish, not
For their good aimed, disturbs. To thee is given
The glory of teaching this, to me the grace
Of bidding thee so act. When he thou lovest,
Urged by thy gracious influence, graffed in him,
Lives consonant with his destiny, so conceives
Of life's great ends that duties show as soul's
Best privileges, obedience stands transformed
To triumph, then the end indeed draws nigh.
Till penitent of all sin and sanctified,
Even spirit elect pleaseth not wholly God:
Nor itself gladdens in him with that whole joy
The perfected conceive who walk through life
Heart--crowned, with the aureole of divinity
Their reborn nature glorifying.
Clara. Be this
And all things as God would.
Angela. Ye both have erred.
Missioned for this cause prompt from heaven I come
To show ye this. Thou shrankest to share with him
His exaltation in the house of life,
Miraculous, unconceived lest secular cares
Thy way from peace and still humility warp,
Mistrusting destiny;--nor he his heart
Would lovewards ope, lest the magnificent end
World--rule, of God determined, in his hands
Waver, or wane, or e'er his thoughts quit. Heaven
Otherwise orders. Thou to him shalt reach,
With God's design the fruit of perfectness
Pure grace; calm, holy, generative of peace
And vital wisdom; not on truth's domain
Deviating by chance, nor on strict virtue's grounds
Trespassing, as by stealth; but in thy course
Upheld by holiest patience, shalt with all
Divine conditions congruous live, as earth
Moves with the moving future of the stars,
Fateful and fair as they: even here, in heaven,
Quickened with life eterne, the saved, reborn
Of God the Spirit, are spirits themselves divine
Whose will the worlds await. Hence, seek thy fate.
This union is decreed in heaven--and blessed.
Clara. I yield. Albeit aye erring, let me not
Urge pardon for defectible nature;--that
Is God's decree, too; but with purest gold
Obedience, haste to o'erlay God's mercy--seat,
The hour of life he grants us here.
Angela. It is well.
This hoped I from the first. Know, in yon orb
Where first,--this quit,--I, greatened in soul by death
Rejoiced, thy loved one now, mine erst, to meet,
And point his spirit hopeful of heaven, to truth;--
Orb, which then lit to rest the sun, but now
Him ushereth, as thou seest, this morn to toil
Celestial, and the glory of active life,
I thy felicitous fate presaged, than mine
Happier,--as seemed to eye of being which yet
Earth's echoes thrilled; fate now fulfilled. Lo, there!
See where yon wanton sun, not yet ripe aged,
But, feigning infancy, with Morn's fair hours
Sent to arouse him, toys, and bids them bind
Their grossest gauzes round him; lo! he stirs,
And suddenly every golden swathe that ringed
His mummied limbs falls off; his wakeners scud
Far, far, rose blushed; he triumphs innocently;
And smiling gives to eternity the day
He had promised ere he slept. Accept, so thou,
Life's renovative season, and be content
With all good compassable.
Clara. Be it as heaven wills.



Philip James Bailey


Philip James Bailey's other poems:
  1. Festus - Proem
  2. Festus - 17
  3. Festus - 24
  4. Festus - 32
  5. Festus - 42


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