Nox Oculis


Philip James Bailey (1816–1902)

Knowledge

    The knowledge of God is the wisdom of man --
    This is the end of Being, wisdom; this
    Of wisdom, action ; and of action, rest ;
    And of rest, bliss ; that by experience sage
    Of good and ill, the diametric powers
    Which thwart the world, the thrice-born might discern
    That death divine alone can perfect both,
    The mediate and initiate; that between
    The Deity and nothing, nothing is.

    The Atlantean axis of the world
    And all the undescribed circumference,
    Where earth’s thick breath thins off to blankest space
    Uniting with inanity, this truth
    Confess, the sun-sire and the death-world too,
    And undeflected spirit pure from Heaven,
    That He who makes, destroying, saves the whole.
    The Former and Re-Former of the world
    In wisdom’s holy spirit all renew.

    To know this, is to read the runes of old,
    Wrought in the time-outlasting rock ; to see
    Unblinded in the heart of light ; to feel
    Keen through the soul, the same essential strain,
    Which vivifies the clear and fire-eyed stars,
    Still harping their serene and silvery spell
    In the perpetual presence of the skies,
    And of the world-cored calm, where silence sits
    In secret light all hidden; this to know --
    Brings down the fiery unction from on high,
    The spiritual chrism of the sun,
    Which hallows and ordains the regnant soul --
    Transmutes the splendid fluid of the frame
    Into a fountain of divine delight,
    And renovative nature ; -- shows us earth,
    One with the great galactic line of life
    Which parts the hemispheral palm of Heaven ;
    This with all spheres of Being makes concord
    As at the first creation, in that peace
    Premotional, pre-elemental, prime,
    Which is the hope of earth, the joy of Heaven,
    The choice of the elect, the grace of life,
    The blessing and the glory of our God.
    And —- as the vesper hymn of time precedes
    The starry matins of Eternity,
    And daybreak of existence in the Heavens, --
    To know this, is to know we shall depart
    Into the storm-surrounding calm on high,
    The sacred cirque, the all-central infinite
    Of that self-blessedness wherein abides
    Our God, all-kind, all-loving, all-beloved ; --
    To feel life one great ritual, and its laws,
    Writ in the vital rubric of the blood,
    Flow in, obedience, and flow out, command,
    In sealike circulation; and be here
    Accepted as a gift by Him who gives
    An empire as an alms, nor counts it aught,
    So long as all His creatures joy in Him,
    The great Rejoicer of the Universe,
    Whom all the boundless spheres of Being bless.

    Philip James Bailey, tiré de The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse (1917)


Oeuvres :

  • The Age ; A Colloquial Satire (1858)
  • The Angel World and Other Poems (1850)
  • Causa Britannica : A poem in Latin hexameters with Enlish paraphrase in free heroic verse (1883)
  • Festus : A poem (1877)
  • The Mystic and Other Poems (1855)
  • Nottingham Castle. An ode, historical and traditionary, on the opening of the castle as a permanent art museum (1878)
  • Universal Hymn (1867)

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