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FESTUS is the title of a very remarkable poem published anonymously by Pickering, in 1839. It is stated in HORNE'S New Spirit of the Age, that it was written by P. J. BAILEY, but of Mr. BAILEY, more than that he wrote Festus, I know nothing. The poem attracted considerable attention, on its appearance, but was not generally praised. The versification is often careless, and the work shows a want of the constructive faculty. Moreover, it is too daring in action and conclusion. It has scenes in the unknown world, and its hero speaks
FESTUS DESCRIBES HIS FRIEND.
He had no times of study, and no place; All places and all times to him were one. His soul was like the wind-harp, which he loved, And sounded only when the spirit blew, Sometime in feasts and follies, for he went [rose Life-like through all things; and his thoughts then Like sparkles in the bright wine, brighter still, Sometimes in dreams, and then the shining words Would wake him in the dark before his face. All things talk'd thoughts to him. The sea went mad To show his meaning; and the awful sun Thundered his thoughts into him; and at night The stars would whisper theirs, the moon sigh hers, He spake the world's one tongue; in earth and heaven
There is but one, it is the word of truth.
To him the eye let out its hidden meaning;
And young and old made their hearts over to him;
And thoughts were told to him as unto none,
Save one who heareth, said and unsaid, all.
All things were inspiration unto him-
Wood, wold, hill, field, sea, city, solitude,
And crowds, and streets, and man where'er he was,
And the blue eye of God which is above us;
Brook-bounded pine spinnies, where spirits flit;
And haunted pits the rustic hurries by,
Where cold wet ghosts sit ringing jingling bells;
Old orchards' leaf-roofed aisles, and red-cheek'd load;
And the blood-colour'd tears which yew-trees weep
O'er churchyard graves, like murderers remorseful;
The dark green rings where fairies sit and sup,
Crushing the violet dew in the acorn cup;
Where by his new-made bride the bridegroom sips,
The white moon shimmering on their longing lips;
The large, o'er-loaded, wealthy-looking wains
Quietly swaggering home through leafy lanes,
Leaving on all low branches, as they come,
Straws for the birds, ears of the harvest-home;-
He drew his light from that he was amidst,
face to face with Him whom no one hath seen or at any time shall see. In some respects it is not unlike the Faust of GOETHE. It is not equal to that wonderful book; yet it has passages of deepest wisdom, of power and tenderness, such as few poets in our day have produced; and it will live.
In the Monthly Magazine for 1840 is an additional scene to Festus, in which the author speaks of himself and his poem. The first of the following extracts is from this
As doth a lamp from air which hath itself
Matter of light although it show not. His
Was but the power to light what might be lit.
He met a muse in every lonely maid;
And learn'd a song from every lip he loved.
But his heart ripen'd most 'neath southern eyes,
Which sunn'd their sweets into him all day long,
For fortune call'd him southward, towards the sun.
We do not make our thoughts; they grow in us
Like grain in wood; the growth is of the skies,
Which are of nature, nature is of God.
The world is full of glorious likenesses,
The poet's power is to sort these out,
And to make music from the common strings
With which the world is strung; to make the dumb
Earth utter heavenly harmony, and draw
Life clear and sweet and harmless as spring water,
Welling its way through flowers. Without faith,
Illimitable faith, strong as a state's
In its own might, in God, no bard can be.
All things are signs of other and of nature.
It is at night we see heaven moveth, and
A darkness thick with suns; the thoughts we think
Subsist the same in God, as stars in heaven,
And as those specks of light will prove great worlds,
When we approach them sometime free from flesh,
So too our thoughts will become magnified
To mindlike things immortal. And as space
Is but a property of God, wherein
Is laid all matter, other attributes
May be the infinite homes of mind and soul. ...
Love, mirth, wo, pleasure, was in turn his theme,
And the great good which beauty does the soul,
And the God-made necessity of things.
And, like that noble knight in olden tale,
Who changed his armour's hue at each fresh charge
By virtue of his lady-love's strange ring,
So that none knew him save his private page,
And she who cried, God save him, every time
He brake spears with the brave till he quell'd all-
So he applied him to all themes that came;
Loving the most to breast the rapid deep,
Where others had been drown'd, and heeding
Where danger might not fill the place of fame.
And mid the magic circle of these sounds,
His lyre ray'd out, spell-bound himself he stood,
Like a still'd storm. It is no task for suns
To shine. He knew himself a bard ordain'd,
More than inspired, of God inspirited,
Making himself like an electric rod
A lure for lightning feelings; and his words
Felt like the things which fall in thunder, which
The mind, when in a dark, hot, cloudful state,
Doth make metallic, meteoric, ball-like.
He spake to spirits with a spirit-tongue,
Who came compell'd by wizard word of truth,
And ray'd them round him from the ends of heaven;
For, as be all bards, he was born of beauty,
And with a natural fitness, to draw down
All tones and shades of beauty to his soul,
Even as the rainbow tinted shell, which lies
Miles deep at bottom of the sea, hath all
Colours of skies, and flowers, and gems, and plumes,
And all by nature, which doth reproduce
Like loveliness in seeming opposites.
Our life is like the wizard's charmed ring,
Death's heads, and loathsome things fill up the
But spirits wing about, and wait on us,
While yet the hour of enchantment is,
And while we keep in, we are safe, and can
Force them to do our bidding. And he raised
The rebel in himself, and in his mind
Walk'd with him through the world.
I LOVED her, for that she was beautiful,
And that to me she seem'd to be all nature
And all varieties of things in one;
Would set at night in clouds of tears, and rise
All light and laughter in the morning; fear
No petty customs nor appearances;
But think what others only dream'd about;
And say what others did but think; and do
What others would but say; and glory in [me;
What others dared but do; it was these which won
And that she never school'd within her breast
One thought or feeling, but gave holiday
To all; and that she told me all her woes
And wrongs and ills; and so she made them mine
In the communion of love; and we
Grew like each other, for we loved each other;
She, mild and generous as the sun in spring;
And I, like earth, all budding out with love.
The beautiful are never desolate;
For some one alway loves them-God or man.
If man abandons, God Himself takes them,
And thus it was. She whom I once loved died.
The lightning loathes its cloud; the soul its clay.
Can I forget that hand I took in mine,
Pale as pale violets; that eye, where mind
And matter met alike divine? Ah, no!
May God that moment judge me when I do!
Oh! she was fair; her nature once all spring
And deadly beauty like a maiden sword;
Startlingly beautiful. I see her now!
Whate'er thou art, thy soul is in my mind;
Thy shadow hourly lengthens o'er my brain
And peoples all its pictures with thyself,
Gone, not forgotten; pass'd, not lost; thou'lt shine
In heaven like a bright spot in the sun!
She said she wish'd to die, and so she died;
For, cloudlike, she pour'd out her love, which was
Her life, to freshen this parch'd heart. It was
I said we were to part, but she said nothing;
There was no discord; it was music ceased;
Life's thrilling, bursting, bounding joy. She sate
Like a house-god, her hands fix'd on her knee;
And her dank hair lay loose and long behind her,
Through which her wild bright eye flash'd like a
She spake not, moved not, but she look'd the more;
As if her eye were action, speech, and feeling. -
I felt it all, and came and knelt beside her,
The electric touch solved both our souls together;
Then comes the feeling which unmakes, undoes;
Which tears the sealike soul up by the roots
And lashes it in scorn against the skies.
Twice did I stamp to God, swearing, hand clench'd,
That not even He nor death should tear her from me.
It is the saddest and the sorest night
One's own love weeping. But why call on God?
But that the feeling of the boundless bounds
All feeling! as the welkin doth the world.
It is this which ones us with the whole and God.
Then first we wept; then closed and clung
FAITH is a higher faculty than reason, Though of the brightest power of revelation, As the snow-peaked mountain rises o'er The lightning, and applies itself to heaven, We know in daytime there are stars about us Just as at night, and name them what and where By sight of science; so by faith we know, Although we may not see them till our night, That spirits are about us, and believe, That to a spirit's eye all heaven may be As full of angels as a beam of light
As spiritual, it shows all
Classes of life, perhaps above our kind,
Known to tradition, reason, or God's word.
As earthly, it imbodies most the life
Of youth; its powers, its aims, its deeds, its failings;
And as a sketch of world-life, it begins
And ends, and rightly, in heaven, and with God;
While heaven is also in the midst thereof.
God, or all good, the evil of the world,
And man, wherein are both, are each display'd;
The mortal is the model of all men.
The foibles, follies, trials, sufferings
Of a young, hot, un-world-school'd heart, that has
Had its own way in life, and wherein all
May see some likeness of their own, 'tis these
Attract, unite, and, sunlike, concentrate
The ever-moving system of our feeling;
Like life, too, as a whole, it has a moral,
And, as in life, each scene too has its moral,
A scene for every year of his young life,
Shining upon it, like the quiet moon,
Illustrating the obscure, unequal earth:
And though these scenes may seem to careless eyes
Irregular and rough and unconnected,
Like to the stones at Stonehenge, still a use,
A meaning, and a purpose may be mark'd
Among them of a temple rear'd to God,—
It has a plan, no plot; and life has none.
WHO can mistake great thoughts? They seize upon the mind; arrest, and search, And shake it; bow the tall soul as by wind; Rush over it like rivers over reeds, Which quaver in the current; turn us cold, And pale, and voiceless; leaving in the brain A rocking and a ringing,―glorious, But momentary; madness might it last,
And close the soul with Heaven as with a seal.
WHEN he hath had
A letter from his lady dear, he bless'd
The paper that her hand had travell'd over,
And her eye look'd on, and would think he saw
Gleams of that light she lavish'd from her eyes,
Wandering amid the words of love she'd traced
Like glowworms among beds of flowers. He seem'd
To bear with being but because she loved him;
She was the sheath wherein his soul had rest,
As hath a sword from war.
NIGHT brings out stars as sorrow shows us truths; Though many, yet they help not; bright, they light not.
They are too late to serve us; and sad things
Are aye too true. We never see the stars
Till we can see naught but them. So with truth.
And yet if one would look down a deep well,
Even at noon, we might see these same stars,
Far fairer than the blinding blue: the truth
Stars in the water like a dark bright eye,
But there are other eyes men better love
Than truth's, for when we have her she is so cold
And proud, we know not what to do with her...
Sometimes the thought comes swiftening over us,
Like a small bird winging the still blue air,
And then again at other times it rises
Slow, like a cloud which scales the skies all breathless,
And just o'erhead lets itself down on us.
Sometimes we feel the wish across the mind
Rush, like a rocket roaring up the sky,
That we should join with God and give the world
The go-by; but the world meantime turns round,
And peeps us in the face; the wanton world ;
We feel it gently pressing down our arm,
The arm we raised to do for truth such wonders;
We feel it softly bearing on our side;
We feel it touch and thrill us through the body;
And we are fools, and there's an end of us.
WE live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
We should count time by heart-throbs. He most
Who thinks most; feels the noblest; acts the best. And he whose heart beats quickest lives the longest: Lives in one hour more than in years do some Whose fat blood sleeps as it slips along their veins. Life is but a means unto an end; that end, Beginning, mean, and end to all things-God. The dead have all the glory of the world.
THE bard must have a kind, courageous heart, And natural chivalry to aid the weak. He must believe the best of every thing; Love all below, and worship all above. All animals are living hieroglyphs. The dashing dog, and stealthy-stepping cat, Hawk, bull, and all that breathe, mean something
To the true eye than their shapes show; for all
Were made in love, and made to be beloved.
Thus must he think as to earth's lower life,
Who seeks to win the world to thought and love,
As doth the bard, whose habit is all kindness
To every thing.
THIS gentle, meditative poet, whose School of the Heart, and other poems, were published at Cambridge, in 1835, is a follower of WORDSWORTH. His School of the Heart is an "Excursion" in a minor key. It is in a vein of high religious feeling and attachment to the English church, of which Mr. ALFORD is a clergyman. It is such poetry as GOLD
STAND by me here, beloved, where thick crowd
On either side the path the headstones white:
How wonderful is death-how passing thought
That nearer than yon glorious group of hills,
Aye, but a scanty foot or two beneath
This pleasant sunny mound, corruption teems;-
And that one sight of that which is so near
Could turn the current of our joyful thoughts,
Which now not e'en disturbs them.
Not, like the rest, full of the dazzling noon,
But sober brown-round which the ivy twines
Its searching tendril, and the yew-tree shade
Just covers the short grave. He mourn'd not ill
Who graved the simple plate without a name :
This grave's a cradle, where an infant lyes,
Rockt faste asleepe with death's sad lullabyes."
And yet methinks he did not care to wrong
The genius of the place, when he wrote "sad :"
The chime of hourly clock,-the mountain stream
That sends up ever to thy resting-place
Its gush of many voices-and the crow
Of matin cock, faint it may be but shrill,
From elm-embosom'd farms among the dells,-
These, little slumberer, are thy lullabyes:
Who would not sleep a sweet and peaceful sleep,
Thus husht and sung to with all pleasant sounds?
And I can stand beside thy cradle, child,
And see yon belt of clouds in silent pomp
Midway the mountain sailing slowly on,
Whose beaconed top peers over on the vale ;-
And upward narrowing in thick-timbered dells
Dark solemn coombs, with wooded buttresses
Propping his mighty weight-each with its stream,
Now leaping sportfully from crag to crag,
Now smooth'd in clear black pools; then in the vales,
Through lanes of bowering foliage glittering on,
By cots and farms and quiet villages
And meadowsbrightest green. Who would not sleep,
Rock'd in so fair a cradle?
SMITH's pure-hearted vicar would not have objected to. The dedication of these volumes is: "To the playmate of his childhood, the joy of his youth, and the dear companion of his cares and studies, these poems are dedicated by her affectionate husband." Mr. ALFORD has since written The Abbot of Machelnaye, published by Pickering.
In a thick dazzling darkness.—Who art thou
Under this hillock on the mountain side?
I love the like of thee with a deep love,
And therefore call'd thee dear-thee who art now
A handful of dull earth. No lullabyes
Hearest thou now, be they or sweet or sad-
Not revelry of streams, nor pomp of clouds;
Not the blue top of mountain-nor the woods
That clothe the steeps, have any joy for thee.
Go to, then-tell me not of balmiest rest
In fairest cradle-for I never felt
One half so keenly as I feel it now,
That not the promise of the sweetest sleep
Can make me smile on death. Our days and years
Pass onward-and the mighty of old time
Have put their glory by, and laid them down
Undrest of all the attributes they wore,
In the dark sepulchre-strange preference
To fly from beds of down and softest strains
Of timbrel and of pipe, to the cold earth,
The silent chamber of unknown decay :
To yield the delicate flesh, so loved of late
By the informing spirit, to the maw
Of unrelenting waste; to go abroad
From the sweet prison of this moulded clay,
Into the pathless air, among the vast
And unnamed multitude of trembling stars;
Strange journey, to attempt the void unknown
From whence no news returns; and cast the freight
Of nicely treasured life at once away.
Come, let us talk of death-and sweetly play
With his black locks, and listen for a while
To the lone music of the passing wind
In the rank grass that waves above his bed.
Is it not wonderful, the darkest day
Of all the days of life-the hardest wrench
That tries the coward sense, should mix itself
In all our gentlest and most joyous moods,
A not unwelcome visitant-that thought,
In her quaint wanderings, may not reach a spot
Of lavish beauty, but the spectre form
Meets her with greeting, and she gives herself
To his mysterious converse? I have roam'd
That one word "death," comes over my sick brain Through many mazes of unregistered
Wrapping my vision in a sudden swoon:
Blotting the gorgeous pomp of sun and shade,
Mountain and wooded cliff, and sparkling stream,
And undetermined fancy; and I know
That when the air grows balmy to my fee!
And rarer light falls on me, and sweet sounds
Dance tremulously round my captive ears,
I soon shall stumble on some mounded grave;
And ever of the thoughts that stay with me,
(There are that flit away) the pleasantest
Is hand in hand with death: and my bright hopes,
Like the strange colours of divided light,
Fade into pale uncertain violet
About some hallow'd precinct. Can it be
That there are blessed memories join'd with death,
Of those who parted peacefully, and words
That cling about our hearts, utter'd between
The day and darkness, in Life's twilight time?
BEFORE the day the gleaming dawn doth flee:-
All yesternight I had a dreary dream;
Methought I walk'd in desert Academe
Among fallen pillars-and there came to me,
All in a dim half-twilight silently,
A very sad old man-his eyes were red
With over-weeping-and he cried and said
"The light hath risen but shineth not on me."
Beautiful Athens, all thy loveliness
Is like the scarce remember'd burst of spring
When now the summer in her party dress
Hath clothed the woods, and fill'd each living thing
With ripest joy-because upon our time
Hath risen the noon, and thou wert in thy prime.
THE Sweetest flower that ever saw the light,
The smoothest stream that ever wander'd by,
The fairest star upon the brow of night,
Joying and sparkling from his sphere on high,
The softest glances of the stockdove's eye,
The lily pure, the mary bud gold-bright,
The gush of song that floodeth all the sky
From the dear flutterer mounted out of sight,-
Are not so pleasure-stirring to the thought,
Not to the wounded soul so full of balm,
As one frail glimpse, by painful straining caught
Along the past's deep mist-enfolded calm,
Of that sweet face, not visibly defined,
But rising clearly on the inner mind.
SLOWLY and softly let the music go,
As ye wind upwards to the gray church tower;
Check the shrill hautboy, let the pipe breathe low-
Tread lightly on the pathside daisy flower.
For she ye carry was a gentle bud,
Loved by the unsunn'd drops of silver dew;
Her voice was like the whisper of the wood
In prime of even, when the stars are few.
Lay her all gently in the flowerful mould,
Weep with her one brief hour; then turn away,-
Go to hope's prison,-and from out the cold
And solitary gratings many a day
Look forth: 'tis said the world is growing old,And streaks of orient light in Time's horizon play.
"THE MASTER IS COME, AND CALLETH FOR THEE."
RISE, said the Master, come unto the feast :-
She heard the call, and rose with willing feet:
But thinking it not otherwise than meet
For such a bidding to put on her best,
She is gone from us for a few short hours
Into her bridal closet, there to wait
For the unfolding of the palace gate
That gives her entrance to the blissful bowers.
We have not seen her yet; though we have been
Full often to her chamber door, and oft
Have listen'd underneath the postern green,
And laid fresh flowers, and whisper'd short and soft:
But she hath made no answer, and the day
From the clear west is fading fast away.
OFT have I listen'd to a voice that spake
Of cold and dull realities of life.
Deem we not thus of life: for we may fetch
Light from a hidden glory, which shall clothe
The meanest thing that is with hues of heaven.
If thence we draw not glory, all our light
Is but a taper in a chamber'd cave,
That giveth presence to new gulfs of dark.
Our light should be the broad and open day;
And as we lose its shining, we shall look
Still on the bright and daylight face of things.
Is it for nothing that the mighty sun
Rises each morning from the Eastern plain
Over the meadows fresh with hoary dew?
Is it for nothing that the shadowy trees
On yonder hill-top, in the summer night
Stand darkly out before the golden moon?
Is it for nothing that the autumn boughs
Hang thick with mellow fruit, what time the
Presses the luscious juice, and joyful shouts
Rise in the purple twilight, gladdening him
Who labour'd late, and homeward wends his way
Over the ridgy grounds, and through the mead,
Where the mist broods along the fringed stream?
Far in the Western sea dim islands float,
And lines of mountain coast receive the sun
As he sinks downward to his resting-place,
Minister'd to by bright and crimson clouds-
Is it for nothing that some artist hand
Hath wrought together things so beautiful?
Noon follows morn, the quiet breezeless noon :
And pleasant even, season of sweet sounds
And peaceful sights-and then the wondrous
That warbles like an angel, full of love,
From copse and hedgerow side pouring abroad
Her tide of song into the listening night.
Beautiful is the last gleam of the sun
Slanted through twining branches: beautiful
The birth of the faint stars-first clear and pale
The steady-lustred Hesper, like a gem