Philip James Bailey Poems >>
Festus - XLV

'Twas held of old by some heresiarch sage,
Whose nobler name time bruits not overmuch,
That evil and good, twin powers, as light and dark,
Were destined to contest with varying mean,
The world while e'er it lasts; but in the sum
Of things, the final conquest is the Lord's.
Reject not all the fable. In this believe:
The grand intent of being, and its main stress,
Is towards its best, the all--perfect. Rest in God!
Heaven, highest and all enfolding, fills at last
Its infinite bounds: reward of love divine,
Salvation, not alone of this soul, view,
Whose steps we have tracked through time, nor total man's
Only, but of all spirits. Our God, in fine,
Drawing his thousand--folded veil of light,
Shows to the world, the astound and jubilant world,
As that from first forefixed and justified,
The universe cleansed of evil; hell for aye
Abolished; the holy happy; all create
Redeemed; themselves all bliss; all love, their God.

Heaven.
The Deity, Angels, Saints, Spirits Elect, Festus, Lucifer, The Restored Angels.
The Recording Angel. All souls of men are judged save one, earth's chosen,
And last of God's elect.

Son of God. He, too from first
'Mong spirits predestined saved, though to the last
Tried, longest disciplined, see ye entering! Come
Immortal, I have saved thy soul to heaven.
Come hither. All hearts bare themselves to me
As clouds unbind their bosoms to the sun.
Wealthy was thine in gifts of good; and, grant
Its guilt most lay in lavished time and thought
On uneternal ends, unuseful truth,
Knowledge, mind--power, and worldly sway, thy tests,
Let pass, for one whose life 'twas all to serve;
Let light outweigh the darkness.

Saints. Saints rejoice!

Elect Spirits. Welcome, free spirit, long lost, long hoped to heaven,
Where pure perfection reigns, the world of gods.

Saints. Angel of all the covenants, law and love,
Pattern of manhood, with whose kind conformed
Each variously imperfect souls of men
Are made and constituted, we thank thee now
For this full harvest.

Festus. Could I, Lord, pour my soul out
In thanks, even as a river rolling ever
It were too scant for that I owe thee.

Son of God. Nay,
Immortal life were long enough, as life
On earth, or as a moment is, to show
Thy love of good, thy thanks to him who saves.
One heart--throb sometimes earneth heaven, one tear.

Festus. Maker of worlds and souls, let all thee thank
Who have lived, and deathless witness of thy grace,
Me too; thee, holy one, who hast chosen me
From old eternity, while yet I lay
Hid like a thought in thee unuttered, God;
Creator, saviour, judge; sun of the soul,
Whose day is now all noon, eternal noon;
Who makest of the universe, one heaven;
We praise thee, heaven doth praise thee; praise thyself.

Lucifer. Is not this man mine?

God. Evil! hear thou my words.
In the beginning, ere I bade things be;
Or, finite filling with the infinite,
Ere ever I begat the worlds on space;
I knew of him, and saved him in my Son,
My first--born, God's humanity preconceived,
Who now hath judged, for with the Spirit divine
Fraught, heaven's humanity impersonate, he,
Feels yet the frailties of things made, and them
Like feelingly can judge. What deity chose
To make, divine humanity therefore saves:
For I abide not sin, and in my Son,
The spirit of pure humanity deified,
There is no sin; not that he takes away:
It is destroyed for ever, and made nothing.
Spirit of evil, this mortal loved me;
With all his doubts he never doubted God;
But from doubt gathered truth, as snow from clouds,
The most and whitest from those darkest. Such,
His aim was, such his trust to gain for good.
With many a shortcoming, his most strong desire
Was to do good among men; to show life's end
In knowing, loving God, and making known,
His boundless grace; him vindicating from charge
Of partial choice, mind prejudiciable; wrath
Unjust of endless reprobation aimed
'Gainst sinners unpermitted to repent.
And for that peace he chose for man, albeit
Power he himself and life lost; for that good
He chose 'gainst ill, and evil forgave by ill,
Most wronged, and myriads with him, see all here.

Lucifer. Now know I who for certain are the elect,
The sons of God, predestined all to bliss.
I leave thee, Festus. Here, thou wilt be happy,
To be in heaven is God to love for ever,
And him thou must love, here. Here thou wilt find
All thou canst love and ought'st; for souls reborn
Of deity, made and moulded over again
Into his sunlike emblems, multiply
His might and love; the saved are suns, not earths;
And with original glory shine of God;
While I keep on, aye deepening in my darkness,
With not one hope--gleam cross the gloom of being.

Son of God. Father, I pray to thee again one prayer,
One only, it is my latest.

God. It is heard.

Festus. Let us part, spirit. It may be in the coming,
That as some sun extinguished once, may yet,
In the ends of heaven restituent, shine again
Light--crowned; so we all, sometime worth God's making,
May yet be worth forgiving, taking back
Into his bosom pure again; and so blessed
To all eternity with the increase of truth,
And spirit of just obedience, that all mind
Shall one be, in fine, with him who is one in all.

Lucifer. It may be then I shall cease to be. Farewell.
Forgive me in that I tempted thee.

Festus. I am glad.

God. Stay, spirit; it suits not the eternal laws
Of good, that things create be all unmade,
Nor yet that ill be immortal. In all space
Is joy and glory, and the gladdening stars,
Exultant in the sacrifice of sin,
And creatural defect unfilled by faith,
Leap forth as though to welcome earth to heaven;
Leap forth and die. All nature disappears.
Shadows are passed away, through all is light.
Man is as high above temptation now,
And where by grace he alway shall remain,
As ever sun o'er sea; and sin is burned
In hell to ashes, with the dust of death.
The worlds themselves are but as dreams within
Their souls who lived in them; and thou art null,
And thy vocation useless, gone with them.
Therefore shall heaven rejoice in thee again,
And the lost tribes of angels, who in thee
Wedded themselves to woe, first, and who dwell
Around the dizzying centres of all worlds,
Blessed with the blessedest be again; for thus
Salvation to the lost accrues, far passed
Thine ultimate thought, but wholly in scope of mine.
Draw nigh, ye angels, who, long time, with hope
Inspired of heavenly pardon, and with will
Of betterment, and of penitence moved, have striven
My grace to attract, and bring your spirits again
To the orderly progress of all good, approach.
Lo! ye are all restored, rebought, rebrought
To heaven, by him who cast ye forth, your God.
Your ransom, also boundless, hath been paid;
The pure humanity of the all--being God
Can let nought suffer woe for aye; not those
Who most have wronged him, and the souls he loves.
For his murderers Christ on earth forgiveness asked;
And that he would I will. The sage of Auz,
Unjustly accused; the sage of Athens, doomed
Iniquitously, plead pardon; nor shall man
Be juster nor more merciful than his God.
The fount love fills from is too deep for mere
Creation to exhaust, draw he, draw ye,
Angels, eternally. Your primal fall,
All nature's, is an everlasting lapse,
A bottomless descent till stayed by grace:
Which grace is mine. The issuant universe
Returns but to its source as dewdrops seek
Exhaled by sun, cloud--massed, their parent sea.
God's gifts are aye of increase. For this cause
Receive ye tenfold of all gifts and powers.
And thou who camest to heaven one soul to claim,
Remain possessed by all. The sons of bliss
Shall welcome thee again and all thy hosts;
Of whom thou first in glory as in woe
Last, most, in bright as darkness late, shalt shine.
Take, Lucifer, thy place. This day redeemed
Art thou to archangelic state. Bright child
Of morning, once again thou beamest fair,
O'er all the starry armaments of light.

Lucifer. The highest and the humblest I of all
The beings whom thou hast made, eternal Lord!

God. Thus art thou vanquished, adversary of good,
And thus restored. Death slain, sin quelled, all ill
Convert, no foe left, conquest is no more.
And you, ye saints, rejoice! that reign of old
Foretold, millennial, ceased, love all, the truth
Shall dwell in, and fulfill, all spirit create,
Hallow and quicken, that longed for reign with heaven's
Identical, of humanity pure, alone
Subsidiary to God's, must disappear.
The spirit of just humanity divinized,
No more distinct from deity yields at once
To him its mediate being; and by the loss
Of separateness all gaining, man with God
Unites, as even in firmamental light,
One, universal, vanisheth every star;
So creatures all in deity; all create
Intelligence circled in the boundless wheel;
All ends in the initial centre crowned.
Lo! death and hell have passed away; the extremes
Of space no longer blurred with the foul reek
Of spheres sin--tormented; heaven pure and calm,
Cored in God's infinite unity, see the whole.

Angels. Oh marvellous mercy, God e'er blessing all.

Saints. Behold they come, the legions of the lost,
Transformed already by the bare behest
Of God our Maker, to the purest form
Of seraph lustre.

God. These have but fulfilled
The faults of imperfection, nor without
Evil, so named of man, can things create,
Act of themselves, or interact. Not theirs
Perfection; worse and better rounds all life,
Seeking or shunning, all intelligent act.
All elements of life act downwards; this
Destructive, sole, aspires; so mind create
Self 'stranged from God, through death, death first and last,
To him returns; through ill all good consummed.
Be all received.

The Restored Angels. But thine be all the praise
And ours submissive thanks; thine, who so mad'st
The universe that its good and ill alike
Praise thee, the Soul supreme.

Saints. O say ye risen
From life unblessed, how came the end we see?

The Restored Angels. Protecting souls, how, hear. Ye doubtless marked
From these rejoicing heights where never war's
Dark storm--cloud blots the blue serene of day
Eternal, hell's late feud. When evil had done
Its worst, and we 'gainst God's divinest power
Had fought and failed in ruin of the kind ends
Thou, Lord! hadst planned for man; and seeing how vile
How vast our wreck; how hopeless showed ill's strife
'Gainst good divine; and minding us of meed
Like boundless, wisdom--promised to all soul
Fixed on self betterment penitently, there rose
On us a twilight dawn of reason, eclipsed
Long, woefully, but e'er brightening, till we viewed
In heaven's true light, gradual, our wretched deeds
Soul torturing now, and all the unholy frauds,
We had, self--blinded, mocked our sight with; saw
Unworthy of rational virtues, so endowed
As we, with means of growth in excellence; powers
Incapable not to range with these on high,
Who, through good, rule; one sole step ta'en, and held.
That step we took, and resolutely confessed,
Repentant in ourselves of all the passed,
The evil we had done and meant. The wail
Thou heard'st, Lord, piteous judge! and over all
Came peace; then, God most blessed us and forgave:
Oh! he hath triumphed over all the world,
In mercy, over earth, and death, and hell.

God. For that my grace is greater than the world,
My essence vaster than the universe;
All recreated life exalted now
To union with its Maker; all may see
Their being's divine foundations in myself;
And know that though on all the fine I fixed
Of finitude; upon all the soul's results;
Woes self--begotten; self--conceived deserts,
And misconstructions of the Merciful One;
When come the end of all, which none but I
Know nor can know, it is mine,--the whole, made pure
By perfect annihilance of ill, to enfold
In mine own infinite being, and in all
The life of love imbreathe, the life of God.
Evil, to soul create, means opposite
Of what to her in outward guise shows good,
In act or thought: thus death to all which live;
Corruption and decay. But in my sight
Evil nor was nor is. I made the world,
Called it by mine own name and named it good;
The infinite whole as circumscribed in me.
All things I made to be good, and good is bliss.
Free choice to prove and need of grace, needs not
Fireflames eternal, feigned by zeal o'erstrained
In God's behalf. Free--will most perfect, pure,
Hath still a limit, my will; which all ellipse
Of thought create outcircles; if with mine
Co--apt, infinite virtually; opposed,
Fate's indefeasible right revives. So deem,
Hate against me--what else is sin?--eterne,
In conscious spirit, its author I, must mean
Such being were best not being, and so in God,
Defectible judgment, folly in wisdom. Far
From nature's mind glorying in reason, fly
Such base unhallowed thoughts! The worlds I made
That I in them might joy, and they in me.
Life I have made enjoyment. Should I make
The sense of all but boundless being, woe?
Though fails the imperfect left to itself to weigh
Perfection's warnings, or the fateful proofs
Of its incompetency itself to rule,
And thus by ill corrupt, wrong willing, sin,
Suffering in time--state righteous penalties
Proportioned to sin's voluntary offence,
Yet justice increate yields final grace,
From him who founded all, of all defect,
All perfect source, sole answerable Cause.
Now, too, that heaven is all, know, no such thing
As absolute evil exists, nor could exist,
Ever. In him who wronged, 'twas better, choice
To have of good and ill with life than not;
Though after justly fined for wrongful choice;
Better it was for him who suffered ill,
To enjoy life than not be; regard, too, had,
To the heavenly recompense, that for innocence,
For tested virtue this. Now, evil gone
Out of the world that was, like one dark wave
Merged in a sea of light, grace all sustains.
Apart from natural causes and the range
Of requisite freedom, evil is not. Free mind,
Free within certain bounds, imperfect, fails
In due conception, justly inadequate,
Of my divine intents,--to creatures known
As fate, doom, destiny, so good and ill
War spiritual wage which lasts while time lasts. Here
Good, losing nought, is made divine, and ill
Sloughing its selfish personalty becomes,
Transfigured in ascent, the all redeemed,
Commensurate with soul kind; and mind finite,
Distinct from, yet with deity perfused,
The whole is peace; divisive nature ends.
Truth only unitive, marks the spirit's path;
An endless radius from a boundless point
Of pure perfection. All created mind,
Whate'er its power, how far soe'er it fly
This parent point, hath limit to its force;
And, active thought its essence, must revolve
Around some central spirit.

Angels. God!

God. Henceforth
All thought of the now hallowed world of life,
Tends to communion with the infinite One;
Communion vital, virtual and divine;
Wherein is bliss supreme.

The Holy Spirit. O sacred Son
Of deity, God's humanity, joy with me.
The tears of nature's birth, time's death--pangs passed,
And justice glorified in all love made,
I, Wisdom, parent of all souls, rejoice,
With thee, as thou with me, next to God's throne.
Sole king and conqueror of the spirit world
Who by thine infinite sacrifice, and in time's
Severance from divinity, didst conclude
In ample verge, the universe of soul;--
Thy throne, the crown of heaven, thy crown thy name,
Thy name the ever bless