Philip James Bailey Poems >>
Festus - XVI

Charged by the spirit e'er upwards ripening, man
And evil, his mightier minister, invade
Peaceful, that sacred sphere, the queen of heaven,
Whose passive utterances of light reveal
The birth of things, their subjectness to soul,
Spiritual and human; sin's source, and the means
Whereby perfection reattained, and men
And angels joined in bliss with God, all good
Shall be at full; and Time, his crown resigned
After his day's reign, to Eternity,--
Mother of him, and of ages all, cease. Here,
Inspired by love of soul--life progressive,
Though for a season thwarted the daring spirit
Promise exacts unforfeitable, from one
Who can fulfil vow made to test the skies
Perfective, elevative of life.

The Moon.
Festus, Lucifer, and Luniel.
Festus. Thus far along these silent wastes of light
Have we, unseeing and unseen, held on.
Time's sands seem turned to seed--pearl as they glide,
In luminous slumber, through his shadowy glass,
To glorified repose; while snowy Peace
Hushes the infant soul, here born again,
To wonder and delight. And yet these rocks,
Whose flames once flourished in the face of heaven,
Like burning banners o'er a fiend host, there
Arrested in ignition, fire made stone,
Speak out of other state than quiet once.
Not Chaos when in travail of the earth,
And groaning with the birth--pang, nor the sun's
Deserts of fire, sea--deep with drifting flame;
Nor all contortions of the solemn clouds,
Can match the immarbled madness of this orb:
As though some vast wild passionate soul, ablaze
Through all its nature with volcanic sin,
By God's one word translated into light,
And the pure beauty of celestial peace,
With adamantine silence seized, had 'come
That instant changeless, deathless and divine.
Still meet we not what in this sphere we seek.
Methinks my mission here may fail, and might,
Were not my soul by force of faith in her
Assured, who urged our hither steps, mine most
Investigative, as like to light on truth
Here hidden; and though long baffled, as to me
Seems, who from sea--bed dry to hill--top have sought
Vainly, the angel virtue of this orb,
Still trust I to behold her, not as yet
Rightly, perhaps, invoked. Or shall I call
Her aid, who willed us here?

Lucifer. And if I knew not
To an ace our whereabouts, though groping, now
And then, through manifold darkness, as we have done;
And of our failures, quite enough! I, too,
Might deem this changeful spherelet just the spot,--
It is bounded, west by light, and east by night,
And north and south by nothing and the wind,
For all poetic possibles, and believe
Truth captured, might romance to us all the night,
Two se'nnights long, in allegories. At last!

Festus. Lo now the angel, as foretold. She makes
Hither. O beauty, holy and divine,
Life--eyed, soul--crowned, illuminated with truth.
Mark how unearthly fair and pure; her air
Of sad felicity, and her mingled mien
Of innocent life and knowledge absolute.

Lucifer. Ere Time had whet his infant scythe, or left
His cradling clouds, or yon pale watery star,
Heaven's giant tear, first cast its shade o'er space,
That angel knew I well; but now, no more.
Nor wished I here to meet, nor thou with her.

Festus. Mind's silent invocacy hath oft such end.

Luniel. Earth--child, behold the angel of this orb.
Long have I marked thy wonder at these scenes,
Thy search for me; this ceased, that satiate now.
Much of the passed thou 'mindst me, and the race
These hills and plains, once populous, teemed with, thee
Not wholly like; of purer strain than thine,