Philip James Bailey Poems >>
Festus - XXVIII

In such time
As it takes to turn a leaf, we are in heaven;
Making our way among the wheeling worlds,
Millions of suns, half infinite each, and space,
For ever shone into, for ever dark,
As deity to and by created mind;
Upborne by the companion spirit, who held,
As tempter, now, by God, enlightener, now
But servant ever, in grasp unloosenable, shows
The nature of the All in One; whence evil,
And its necessity, mediate in all life,
Betwixt its source and end; the angels' fall,
Originated, essentially, as man's,
And creature's perfectness how impossible
Until made one with God.

Infinite Space.
Festus and Lucifer.
Festus. Why, earth is in the very midst of heaven!
And space, though void of things, feels full of God.
Hath space no limit?

Lucifer. None to thee. Yet, if
Infinite, it would equal God; and that
To think of is most vain.

Festus. And yet if not
Infinite how can God exist therein?

Lucifer. I say not.

Festus. No. So soon when placed beside
The infinite the poor immortal fails.

Lucifer. It is God contains the infinite, not that God.
Space is God's space: eternity is his
Eternity; his, heaven. He only holds
Perfections, which are but the impossible
To other beings.

Festus. We are things of time.

Lucifer. With God time is not. Unto him all is
Present eternity. Worlds, beings, years,
With all their natures, powers, and events,
The range whereof when making he ordains,
Unfold themselves like flowers. He foresees
Not, but sees all at once. Time must not be
Contrasted with eternity: it is not
A second of the everlasting year.
Perfections, although infinite with God,
Are all identical; as much of him--
And holy is his mercy, merciful
His wisdom, wise his love, and kind his wrath--
As form, extension, parts, are requisites
Of matter. Spirit hath no parts. It is
One substance, whole and indivisible,
Whatever else. Souls see each other clear
At one glance, as two drops of rain in air
Might look into each other, had they life.
Death doth away disguise.

Festus. Even here I feel
Among these mighty things, that, as I am,
I am akin to God;--that I am part
Of the use universal, and can grasp
Some portion of that reason within whose scope
The whole is ruled and founded;--that I have
A spirit nobler in its cause and end,
Lovelier in order, greater in its powers,
Than all these bright immensities--how swift!
And doth creation's tide for ever flow,
Nor ebb with like destruction? World on world
Are they for ever heaping up, and still
The mighty measure never full?

Lucifer. To act
Is power's habit: always to create,
God's; which, thus ever causing worlds, to him
Nought cumbrous more than new down to a wing,
Aye multiplies at once my power and pain.
I have seen many frames of being pass.
This generation of the universe
Will soon be gathered to its grave. These worlds,
Which bear its sky--pall, soon will follow thine.
I, both. All things must die.

Festus. What are ye orbs?
God's words--the scriptures of the skies? for words
With him cannot be passing, nor less vast,
Less real, nor less glorious than yourselves.
The world is God's great poem; and the worlds
The words it is writ in; and we souls, the thoughts.
Ye cannot die.

Lucifer. Think not on death. Here all
Is life, light, beauty. Harp not so on death.

Festus. I cannot help me, spirit! Chide no more.
As who dare gaze the sun, doth after see
Betwixt him and else, a dark sun in his eye;
So I, once having braved my burning doom,
See nought beside, or that in everything.
Hark! what is that I hear?

Lucifer. An angel weeping.
Earth's guardian angel; she is always weeping.

Festus. See where she flies spirit--lorn round the heavens,
Like a forefeel of madness about the brain.

Angel of Earth. Stars, stars!
Stop your bright cars!
Stint your breath;
Repent ere worse;
Think of the death
Of the universe.
Fear doom, and fear
The fate of your kin--sphere.
As a corse in the tomb
Earth! thou art laid in doom.
The worm is at thy heart.
I see all things part:--
The bright air thicken,
Birds from the sky
Shower like leaves;
Streamlets stop,
Like ice on eaves.
The sun go blind;
Swoon the wind
On the high hill--top,
Swoon and die.
Earth rear off her cities
As a horse his rider;
And still with each death--strain,
Her heart--wound tear wider.
The dead rise;
Death dies.
Go, time, and sink
Thy great thoughts in the sea,
And quench thy red link.
Let him flutter to rest
On thy god--nursing breast,
Mother Eternity,
What is for me?

Festus. Poor angel! ah, it is the good most suffer.
Look! like a cloud she hath wept herself away.
Yon central sphere supreme of spirit create,
Immediate seeming most to deity, draws
With irresistible force.

Lucifer. Thereto we tend.

Festus. What of this world we view, and all yon worlds?
If God made not the whole from nothing, how
Is he creator? Somewhat must exist
Else, with himself eternal, nor had all things
In him their origin.

Lucifer. All being he makes
Of his own nature manifestive; each day
Is born a new creation; the infinite
Expands perpetually, new formed; all orbs
Have their revealed law; and every race
Of being hath had its judgment, or shall have.

Festus. The infinite reach of dark and vacuous space!
Oh, let me rest, be it but a moment's pause,
Remember still my spirit toils in guise