Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bringing Starry Wisdom Down

The Fellowship of the Dead
by George Boole

Fellowship of spirits bright,
Crowned with laurel, clad with light,
From what labours are ye sped,
By what common impulse led,
With what deep remembrance bound,
'Mid the mighty concourse round,
That ye thus together stand,
An inseparable band?

Mortal! well hast thou divined
What the chains that strongest bind;
For the free unfettered soul
Bows to no enforced control;
Sympathy of feelings shared,
Deeds achieved, and perils dared,
These to spirits are—beyond
Time and place—the noblest bond.

All who felt the sacred flame
Rising at oppression's name,
All who toiled for equal laws.
All who loved the righteous cause,
All whose world-embracing span
Bound them to each brother man
Are upon the spirit-coast
An indissoluble host.

All who with a pure intent
Were on Nature's knowledge bent.
Watched the comet's wheeling flight,
Traced the subtle web of light,
And the wide dominion saw
Of the universal law.
In this land of souls agree
With a deep-felt sympathy.

All that to the love of truth
Gave the fervour of their youth.
Then for others spread the store
Of their rich and studious lore,
Bringing starry wisdom down
To the peasant and the clown.
Are with us in spirit-land,
An inseparable band.

Whether they were known to fame,
Whether silence wrapt their name,
Whether dwellers in the strife
Or the still and cloistered life;
If with pure and humble thought
For the good alone they wrought.
When the earthly life is done,
In the heavenly they are one.

And their souls together twine
In a fellowship divine,
And they see the ages roll
Onward to their destined goal,
Dark with shadows of the past,
Till the morning come at last.
And an Eden bloom again
For the weary sons of men.

This George Boole is the George Boole, best known for his work on differential equations and on algebraic logic. Boole, who was a mostly self-taught polymath, was an avid reader of poetry and occasionally wrote it for relaxation. This particular poem was published well after George Boole's death, in Mary Everest Boole's The Message of Psychic Science to the World (which was privately printed in a small run in 1883 but published for general readership in 1908).

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