Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 114. Knowledge
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
114. Knowledge
By Philip James Bailey  (1816–1902)
  
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        5
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       10
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,       15
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       20
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,       25
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—       30
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;       35
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,       40
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       45
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,       50
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,       55
So long as all His creatures joy in Him,
The great Rejoicer of the Universe,
Whom all the boundless spheres of Being bless.

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