Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 116. From ‘Festus’
Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
116. From ‘Festus’
By Philip James Bailey  (1816–1902)

‘GOD is the sole and self-subsistent one;
From Him, the sun-creator, nature was
Aethereal essences, all elements,
The souls therein indigenous, and man
Symbolic of all being. Out of earth        5
The matron moon was moulded, and the sea
Filled up the shining chasm; both now fulfil
One orbit and one nature, and all orbs
With them one fate, one universal end.
From light’s projective moment, in the earth       10
The moon was, even as earth i’ the sun; the sun
A fiery incarnation of the heavens.
When sun, earth, moon again make one, resumes
Nature her heavenly state; is glorified.’
As, to the sleepless eye, form forth, at last,       15
The long immeasurable layers of light,
And beams of fire enormous in the east,
The broad foundations of the heaven-domed day
All fineless as the future, so uprose
On mine the great celestial certainty.       20
The mask of matter fell off, I beheld,
Void of all seeming, the sole substance mind,
The actualized ideal of the world.
An absolutest essence filled my soul;
And superseding all its modes and powers,       25
Gave to the spirit a consciousness divine;
A sense of vast existence in the skies;
Boundless commune with spiritual light, and proof
Self-shown, of heaven commensurate with all life.
And I to the light of the great spirit’s eyes       30
Mine hungry eyes returned which, past the first
Intensifying blindness, clearlier saw
The words she uttered of triumphant truth.
For truly, and as my vision heightened, lo!
The universal volume of the heavens,       35
Star-lettered in celestial characters,
Moved musically into words her breath framed forth,
And varied momently; and I perceived
That thus she spake of God: I silent still
And hearkening to the sea-swell of her voice:       40
‘From one divine, all permanent unity comes
The many and infinite; from God all just
To himself and others, who to all is love,
Earth and the moon, like syllables of light,
Uttered by him, were with all creatures blessed       45
By him, and with a sevenfold blessing sealed
To perfect rest, celestial order; all
The double-tabled book of heaven and earth,
Despite such due deficiency as cleaves
Inevitably to soul, till God resume,       50
Progressive aye, possessing too all bliss
Elect and universal in the heavens.’

And none can truly worship but who have
The earnest of their glory from on high,
God’s nature in them. It is the love of God,       55
The ecstatic sense of oneness with all things,
And special worship towards himself that thrills,
Through life’s self-conscious chord, vibrant in him,
Harmonious with the universe, which makes
Our sole fit claim to being immortal; that       60
Wanting nor willing, the world cannot worship.
And whether the lip speak, or in inspired
Silence, we clasp our hearts as a shut book
Of song unsung, the silence and the speech
Is each his; and as coming from and going       65
To him, is worthy of him and his love.
Prayer is the spirit speaking truth to truth;
The expiration of the thing inspired.
Above the battling rock-storm of this world
Lies heaven’s great calm, through which as through a bell,       70
Tolleth the tongue of God eternally,
Calling to worship. Whose hears that tongue
Worships. The spirit enters with the sound,
Preaching the one and universal word,
The God-word, which is spirit, life, and light;       75
The written word to one race, the unwrit
Revealment to the thousand-peopled world.
The ear which hears is pre-attuned in heaven,
The eye which sees prevision hath ere birth.
But the just future shall to many give       80
Gifts which the partial present doles to few;
To all the glory of obeying God.



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