Philip James Bailey

22 April 1816 - 6 September 1902 / England

Festus - Xxxii

God only can heal the bruised spirit, and yield
Peace. By the overthrown altar of a fane,
Foundation shattered, which from faith to faith
Translate, e'er consecrate still stands, we join
In mystic worship secretly. Let us trust
All, worship, form and offering grateful. Stone
Untooled; untouched, unless by nature's hand,
By man reared, solitary; mound, pyramid,
Tower, temple, obelisk, stony cirque, and spire
To one fact witness, that as sun and moon
Fill, with their light, space, so twin truths man's mind
Through time possess; God's onemostness, and our
Immortal life. To soul saved, time's no more
An opponent section of duration, summed
In separate column from the eternal. All's
Eternity, is concentric with our life.

A Ruined Temple, surrounded by Sands.
Festus and Lucifer.
Festus. Here will I worship solely.

Lucifer. It is a fane
Once sacred to the sun; since consecrate
To the Cross; deserted now.

Festus. It matters not
That false god here may have truly been adored,
Nor true God falsely served, nor by what rites
Life--hating, or life--nourishing, or with sign
Simplest of corn, oil, wine; or fruit and flower.
The truly holy soul which hath once received
God's unattainable gift, the imparted sense
Of unitive life with him can hallow here
Whate'er the creed it holds; not less what, late,
Of theo--human being, before all time,
And all incarnate emanations, priest
Or prophet taught these stones, than in times long gone,
Of mediatorial light, heaven's orbèd god,
Sunning, though feebly, death's black void with ray
Too sadly numerable. For me, albeit
The general faith sufficeth, and although
The worshipping crowd I love, the gorgeous rite,
The genuflective wave, the common awe;
The scent of incense; hymns and harmonies
Of the sanctuary; yet knowing somewhat still
More amiable, the secret of the soul,
Commune alone with God, me, here behold
Seas, deserts crossed, to pour forth in this fane
Of old days, my soul's worship; and to God
Give witness of earth's eldest, youngest faith;
Known always to the wise, if by them hidden;
Ere all theophanies; destined all to outlast;
With heaven co--ordinate only; base of all
From the beginning, of all now sum and crown.
Each orb is to itself the heart of heaven;
And each belief, wherein man roots his hope,
And lives and dies, God's favourite. What if here,
Of yore, before this shrine, the sun's pure priest,
And all his prostrate worshippers, knew their god
Fire--bodied, but grossly; conqueror of the shades,
Of earth bright purifier; invoking thee,
O sun! as glory of air, and lord of light!
Fountain and fane of heaven's immortal fire;
Lord of the upper world and lower; judge
Strict, incorruptible; giving every land
Just wealth of light; due service from each soul
Exacting; showing all, high, low, like love;
King of the life to come, immortal; soul
Treating with purifying penalties;
Great wonder--worker; seer of all the skies;
The gates of whose house are the east and the west:
The ever--coming light, bright mystery;
Sense binding, mind attracting, passion taming;
Light born, light generating, light all life;
Whom God begat on light which first he loved,
Encircling in himself; but who in shades
Of primal night wast nursed; whom all time's hours
Attend; whose travel beneficent round the world
Makes one eternal triumph; unto whom
All earth is sacred;--Yes! O sun to thee
One vast and living garden of the Lord,
Watered by light streams, where the vine divine
Fruits, inexhaustible, for the wise; and where
Shepherd of worlds, and harmonist of heaven,
The music of whose golden lyre is light;
With pastures varied, thrives thy starry flock,
Numbered complete, in spiritual perfectness
Inviolable; in multitude of days
Deathless, as in thy years thou O nightslayer;
Whose car the elements draw; from whom all signs
And natural miracles joyously proceed;
Whose eloquent fire lights aye their starry heads
That, in celestial conclave with thee ruling,
Pour down, on darkness' crown, original light;
Whose gospels are the seasons, all thy twelve
In spheral order and a chain starlinked,
Through gods, kings, signs, gems, toils, tribes, messengers,
Heroes and peers, the universe uniting
To thee in love, thy being's boundless law;
Thy Maker's synonym; his symbol thou:--
Whose offspring are the ages, and whose years
Links of the everlasting chain of change
Thou bindst us with, progenitor of spheres;--
To whom time's azure serpent, starry scaled
And noiseless creeping, that its years now sloughs
In thy reviving brightness, and now lays
Its world--eggs in thine incubant rays, we hold
Hallowed, because of thee inspired with life;
Whose quickening touch all life, soulless or souled,
Draws up towards thee all generative; of pest
And death, dispeller; life elicitor;
World--navelled oracle, whose sensible beam
O'erpatent, oft the strongest eye blinds; oft
Godlike, death--darting, life reclaims through the aye
Revolving universe and evolving. This,
The faith of honest ignorance, yet with sense
Of thanks for good received, and things create
Misprising for their Maker, in a rude
Shallow belief which gladdened not the soul,
Raised not, sustained, nor inly enlightened, passed;
To a nobler creed transformed, that thenceforth hailed
In the material heavens but shadowy types
Of spiritual truths more solid; and in shapes
Of hero and saint, light's natural qualities,
Truth, power and purity moralled; in the sun
The source of all things through vast mysteries sought,
Their meaning and their end; from thee, O sun!
Child of the infinite firmament, conceived
A filial god, laborious for man's good;
Unwearyable on earth as in the skies;
Hero and victor of the universe; thou,
Who at thy birth didst slay sin's serpent brood;
And through the foul stalled stable of this world's life,
The sourceless, circular, river of thy love
Didst turn; redeem the soul of man thy friend
From death and hell; destroy the dragon fiend
With the seven deadly heads, devouring life;
Regain thy golden apples, paradise;
And, to complete the mystic cycle, rise
Well proven, and approved of God, to heaven:--
Of whose divine end emulous, we, too, tried
By choice of virtue over pleasurous vice,
Though now by passionate sins distraught, and now
Soul--soiled by waste subservience to mean aims,
From God estranged, yet longing to return,
And brighten again the spirit by strict contact
With heaven's original ray, might sometime find,
Having here lived beneficently 'mong men,
Merited acceptance. Not sufficing this,
Man's soul which speculatively had erst conceived
The light unlimited, whose most ancient sheen
Beamed forth man spiritual, angelic mind,
Intelligent life, life sentient, and, less pure,
Still from God emanant, matter, form and all
This universe in its oval orbit holds,--
The light intelligible conceived on earth
Incarnate; light, before whose orient ray
The gods all vanished like night's ghosts; light sole,
Sun spiritual; source not only of life and light
Worldly, but soul--regenerative; whom all
The lives of all the elements, lamb, fish, dove;
Earth all productive; life requickening air;
The purifying wave, perfective fire;
Whom all earth's faiths and creeds, rites, gods of old,
Foreshadowed personate as a child of man,
In precognition of eternal truth
Made deathless; whom and his, the world foretyped,
One all--comprising prophecy; the moon,
Virgin of heaven, who nightly bringeth forth
The light, thine own, O sun! in heaven to earth;
Morn's herald star, imbathing earth in dew,
And the sun leading into the desert sea,
To his eternal baptism, ere with light
He floods the world, and cleaves the breathing skies
With inspirative fire; earth, weeping set,
Sin--shamed, self--humbled, like the penitent one
Below his cross, the darkness of whose death
Eclipsed all day; these, and light's whole bright flock,
Before thy crucial exaltation fled,
But born of light, predestined yet to range
In bliss the spirit--pasturing skies; to quaff
Serene, the waters of the sun; and yet
Catch his vivific secret, as he beams
Resurgent, from the entombing wave; that grave
Thou, daily dying, dost, night by night, o'erpass
Into the invisible halls men dread; but whence,
O Hadëan god, death--hidden in dark and chill,
Eastering, again thou comest with joy;--foretyped,
All signs, all seasons, records but of thee,
And of thy deeds divine and dignities,
Soul--embleming: twin being, God with man,
Whose doubled nature indicates in heaven
Natural and spiritual; who holdst unmoved
The balance of the all--just One o'er the world,
Well weighing work and faith; with scorpion sting
Treating the carnal conscience self--condemned;
Who bendst the heavens before thee like a bow
And earth thine orbèd arrow shoot'st through air
Who from celestial fountains pourest floods
Of grace regenerative; who to thyself,
Produced by thee, earth's twin chief boons of life
Dost sanctify for sustenance and for joy,
Symbols of soul and body, that both be known
In him thou too but symbollest, God. But these,
Enthusiasts of a composite creed who sought
The impossible with too easy to imblend,
And difficulty soul--bracing scape, but failed
With speculative conceits to unreason faith,
Learned liberally at last the simpler truth
Whereby we recognize as one of heaven's
Star peers the sphere we dwell in, and yon sun
Know, too, as not above us; we are upon
The same proud level; by the same laws constrained;
Of the like roots compact. Who therefore knows
Soul--freed, all stars but steps in heaven's great scale,
Up to God's throne from time's last orb which eyes
The inner and the utter infinite round
To that highest deepest midmost site where heaven's
Star--music ends, for ever quelled in the sun's
Silence supreme; knows happily too, that through
All spheral forms, the centre searching soul,
Circling in bright expansive progress, fit
To match the march of angels in time's van,
By--passing all night's constellated chart
Where God hath set his burning seal the sun,
And all delights of merely intelligent life,
In spirit conquests self--purifying skilled,
Reseeks thee, lone and universal light,
Spiritual, divine, deific; even as at first
Creative, all conclusive; with dread hope
Persistent, individually, to acquire
Clear glory, and midst the all--involving heavens
Share preapportioned rule. Now dawns the day
When natural faiths and typical both outworn
Man's spirit sight by eyebright of the stars,
And rue celestial cleared, one deity sole,
One spirit throughout the globe shall name; one Power
Beyond all being; of all worlds sire and heir;
Sole Saviour of the world of life he hath made;
Whose breath from servile matter framed at first
The fading frostwork of created things.
Earth's tale is told in heaven; heaven's told in earth.
Since either 'gan, though thousand tribes have chosen
A thousand types, one sole true faith hath been,
The faith of all in God. Let earth, henceforth,
To its right creed re--oriented, the faith
Which, world--comprising, soul--sufficing, wise
Spirits are taught of rational light,--confess
Things all may symbols, each of other, be,
Nothing of God. To this joyed eye, the hour
Already, hawklike, preens its wing for flight,
When all shall be remassed in one great creed,
All spirit shall yet be rebegotten; all
Worship rededicate, time's degenerate lapse
Twice having fused the symbol with the truth;
All dark things brightened; all contrariants blent;
And truth and love, perradiating all life
Be the new poles of nature; earth, at last
Joining the great procession of the skies.
Now, therefore to the sole true God, in man,
In nature timely manifested, these walls
Shall echo praise, if never yet. Attend.
Bring me a morsel of the fire without.
For I a sacred offering unto God
Will make, as high priest of the world. He lacks not
At best hands, consecration, whom thou, Lord!
By choice hast hallowed; and these elements
I offer, thou hast holy made, by making.

Lucifer. Lo, fire! I wait thee in the air.

Festus. Withdraw.
Eternal, infinite Spirit, hear thou, heaven--throned,
While one, by thy divine salvation graced,
A servant of thy boundless law of love,
This temple redevotes to a purer end
Than they who built or who abandoned knew.
Thine Lord are all the elements, all the worlds;
The sun thy bounteous servant, and the moon
Thy servant's servant; the round rushing earth;
This lifeful air; these thousand wingèd winds:
Fire, heaven--kinned; continental clouds; the sea
Broad--breasted, trancèd lake; and rivers rich,
Arterial; sky--crowned, shadow--haunted hills,
Their woody tresses waving on the breeze,
Grateful, in sign of worship; all are thine.
Thine are the snow robed mountains girdling earth
As the white spirits God our Saviour's throne;
Thine the bright secrets central in all orbs,
And rudimental mysteries of sphere life,
Fire misted, nebulous. The sun starred night,
Day all prevailing, ever maiden morn,
Consummate eve, earth's varying seasons aye
Confess them thine, through the life gladdening world.
All art hath wrought from earth, or science lured
From truth, like flame out of the firecloud; all
Man's thought, man's toil, man's deeds, his best of thee
Inspired, of thee foreplanned all nature, are
Thine; thine the glory; all of thee conceived,
Things finite, infinite, to thee belong,
As mountains to a world, as worlds to heaven.
City high domed and pompous; populous town,
Toilful, and early hamlet; all that live
Or die: decay or flourish; change, or stand
Unchanged, before thy face, heaven's starry hosts
Thy ministry of light, for thee exist,
Or, at thy bidding, are not. Thine, all cause
Evil, or best, of every orb; all ends
Forebalanced, yet preponderate so towards good
As all events to adjust: thine Lord! all souls;
Thought, atom, world, the universe thine; thou yet
Thine eye, all hallowing, canst as easily turn
From comprehending the bright infinite,
To this crushed temple, where the wild flower decks
Its earthquake rifted walls, and birdlets build
In leafage of its columned capitals,
And to this crumbling heart I offer here,
As trust thine own eternity. Behold!
Accept, I pray thee Lord! this sacrifice;
These elemental offerings, simple, pure,--
A branch, a flowery turf, a burning coal,
A cup of water and an empty bowl,--
I, in man's name, make filially to thee,
Formless, save kneeling heart, save prostrate soul,
In token of thine all perfect monarchy
And world comprising mercy, of us confessed.
This air--filled bowl, of the world typical, thou
With thy good spirit replenishest, and the soul
Receptive of thy life conferring truth;
This, the symbolic element, whence, reborn,
Made pure, thy chosen are first regenerate
Out of men's mighty multitudes, yet all
As of one nature be redeemed; this coal,
From the earth torn flaming, which thy mercy, sin
Consuming, as of earth proclaims; and these
Pale flamelets, starwards tending, emblem just
Of spirit aspiring Godwards; this mere turf
As the earthy nature and abode we would
Subject to thee, here lying, though type obscure,
Yet representative of heaven's every star,
And world extended matter; all these in one
Sole, simple oblation proffered;--last, this branch,
High flourishing over all, let this, Lord! sign
Thine own eternal son Humanity
On earth though dying, immortalized in heaven,
Redemptive of all being; the golden branch--
Rootless in self, graffed only in deity,--
Of life's eternal tree, seer's, sibyl's, word
Inspired of old, full of dark central thought
And mystic truth, foretold should overspread
The spirit world, death's every wound, with its fruit
Healing:--all, offering, offerer, Lord! accept.
Nor these of natural birth as 'neath thine hand
Pure and munificent framed, hold thou to thee
Sole acceptable; but these, corn, olive, grape,
By sumptuous man manipulate into food,
Whereby we strengthen ourselves to endure for thee
This bodily life, and use as best we may,
Deign thou to look upon, and so sanctify
With thine all hallowing glance; for, taught by seer,
Priest, hierophant of old, thou, walking earth,
Shrinking thyself to shape create, calf, lamb
Or kid, with angels and god--messengers
Partaking, drinking wine and breaking bread,
So tokening man's divinity humane,
And thy divine humanity, we know
Didst, in all forms of being, the force convey
Of holiest goodness; thine essential life
Pervading all the elements of the world;
Thine actual all--presence in every heart,
Lift choicefully to thee. So now and here,
By usance of like signs communion whole
Of bodily powers and spiritual, God! with thee
Maker, regenerator, we ask:--ask, too,
This gift, Lord! that if men can nought but sin,
Forgive the creature crime,--fruit this of soul
Imperfect, but by thee create, which takes
From thee its whole capacity,--and bring back
To thy breast world--parent! who madest the whole,
And wilt remould all, purified, to thee.
Wherefore, in spirit of this kind faith, baptized,
Faith, world embracing, soul sufficing, faith,
Wherein the vortices of all variant creeds
As eddies in the sea are lost, let me,
Let both Lord! gladden within ourselves; thou, God!
Who joyest to view the living world, endowed
As with thine own vitality, although
Insentient of its mighty source, because
Reflective of thine attributes; but man
Most, as the living mirror, which conceives
From thy vivific beam the rational ray
Conscious, whereby we, cognizant of thee,
Light of thy light, our crowning glory gain;
Thou, thy chief joy. Exchanging therefore sense
Of life undying, and sureness of the truth,
Thine infinite unity, which doth underlie
The world's wide walls, the truth which, uttered, opes
All--where a paradise, to man colleagued
In brotherly worship of the invisible one,
Father of all immortal spirits, 'twixt whom
And him, love mutual mediateth alone;
We joy, as those of old, who, in mysteries
Initiate, ranked as gods. For now, of ours
Taught trueliest, and thou, sun, the innocent cause
Of faith's first error, from celestial things
Deposed, and made to man subservient, we,
Time's childish ignorance passed, and earth's vain lore
Symbolic, mythical, shadowy, put away
As holy aenigmas merely, do yet confess
That though word written, or sign, be born no more,
The spirit's revelation still proceeds,
Evolving all perfection; and that while
We bless thee, Saviour! knowing that whoso are
In thee are saved, man, nature one and twin
In God triune: we know too, fruit of love
Divine, soul perfecting, the infinite spirit
And antiformal, needs no word, nor lacks
Whereby to mark its union with the soul;
For, kindled like a sacrifice of old,
By heaven's spontaneous fire, the soul achieves,
In aspiration, being's highest end;
Save that accomplished in death's final cause,
With God reunion. Hope whereof, thou Lord!
Instilling into men's minds of eld as now,
Man's richest heritage, and, so, providing
'Gainst mortal things, that must and ought to be,
Thou, who dost all things rightly, all are best,
Joy, sorrow, suffering, power, since ruled by thee,
This heart which finally I to thee devote,
And here, this spirit enlightened with all love
Godwards, let cease from prayer, these lips from praise,
Save that which life shall offer pauselessly.
Be with me, Lord now, all--where and for aye.
Now go I forth again, refreshed, consoled,
Upon my time enduring pilgrimage.
Ho, Lucifer!

Lucifer. I wait thee.

Festus. Whither next?

Lucifer. As thou wilt; apposite spots or opposite;
It is light translateth night; it is inspiration
Expounds experience; it is the west explains
The east; it is time unfolds eternity.

Festus. Enough. It is time then that I homewards tend.
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