Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 315. The Neophyte
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
315. The Neophyte
By Aleister Crowley
  
TO-NIGHT 1 I tread the unsubstantial way
That looms before me, as the thundering night
Falls on the ocean: I must stop, and pray
One little prayer, and then—what bitter fight
Flames at the end beyond the darkling goal?        5
These are my passions that my feet must tread;
This is my sword, the fervour of my soul;
This is my Will, the crown upon my head.
For see! the darkness beckons: I have gone,
Before this terrible hour, towards the gloom,       10
Braved the wild dragon, called the tiger on
With whirling cries of pride, sought out the tomb
Where lurking vampires battened, and my steel
Has wrought its splendour through the gates of death
My courage did not falter: now I feel       15
My heart beat wave-wise, and my throat catch breath
As if I choked; some horror creeps between
The spirit of my will and its desire,
Some just reluctance to the Great Unseen
That coils its nameless terrors, and its dire       20
Fear round my heart; a devil cold as ice
Breathes somewhere, for I feel his shudder take
My veins: some deadlier asp or cockatrice
Slimes in my senses: I am half awake,
Half automatic, as I move along       25
Wrapped in a cloud of blackness deep as hell,
Hearing afar some half-forgotten song
As of disruption; yet strange glories dwell
Above my head, as if a sword of light,
Rayed of the very Dawn, would strike within       30
The limitations of this deadly night
That folds me for the sign of death and sin—
O Light! descend! My feet move vaguely on
In this amazing darkness, in the gloom
That I can touch with trembling sense. There shone       35
Once, in my misty memory, in the womb
Of some unformulated thought, the flame
And smoke of mighty pillars; yet my mind
Is clouded with the horror of this same
Path of the wise men: for my soul is blind       40
Yet: and the foemen I have never feared
I could not see (if such should cross the way),
And therefore I am strange: my soul is seared
With desolation of the blinding day
I have come out from: yes, that fearful light       45
Was not the Sun: my life has been the death,
This death may be the life: my spirit sight
Knows that at last, at least. My doubtful breath
Is breathing in a nobler air; I know,
I know it in my soul, despite of this,       50
The clinging darkness of the Long Ago,
Cruel as death, and closer than a kiss,
This horror of great darkness. I am come
Into this darkness to attain the light:
To gain my voice I make myself as dumb:       55
That I may see I close my outer sight:
So, I am here. My brows are bent in prayer:
I kneel already in the Gates of Dawn;
And I am come, albeit unaware,
To the deep sanctuary: my hope is drawn       60
From wells profounder than the very sea.
Yea, I am come, where least I guessed it so,
Into the very Presence of the Three
That Are beyond all Gods. And now I know
What spiritual Light is drawing me       65
Up to its stooping splendour. In my soul
I feel the Spring, the all-devouring Dawn,
Rush with my Rising. There, beyond the goal,
The Veil is rent!
  Yes: let the veil be drawn.       70


Note 1.  This poem describes the Initiation of the true ‘Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn’ in its spiritual aspect. [back]

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