We know that on some summit, far away
Within the Soul, a beacon-light uplifted
Makes on the mountains round eternal day;
By its bright beams the clouds beneath are rifted,
And for awhile is glorified the grey
Life-sea, whereon so long mankind hath drifted;
That single will oft new strength create,
And then the Spirit conquers time and fate.
To all at times these golden glimpses come;
The clouds roll back; the deep, supernal blue
Is arch’d above those mountains like a dome;
The revelation of the great and true
Comes with those glimpses from the Soul’s far home,
And the Soul knows her lineage and her due;
But most have striven to reach the source in vain
Whence come those beams, or bid their flash remain.
Yet for life’s fever and the mind’s disease
The only refuge for the world is there;
Before they reach it none can taste of ease,
There all are sphered beyond the range of care;
Wrecks toss’d in scorn upon the scourging seas,
Our sails are set to find a haven fair,
But, from those mountains shrinking, still we strive,
And drift for ever where the winds my drive.
We dream of islands lapp’d in amber light,
Of pleasant groves and wilding woodland bowers,
Where morn unclouded follows starry night,
And starry night on evening’s pensive hours;
We see no beauty in the frowning height—
That awful altitude the mind o’erpowers;
Yet the Soul’s home is in its purer air;
Soul-glory, majesty, and might are there.
But there are many, could they see their way,
Who would the summit by their toil attain,
Who not in vain would pour their lives away,
Achieving conquests for their brethren’s gain;
But whom doubt weakens, who in tears delay,
And contemplate life’s spectacle of pain;
Who to do something yearn, yet pause and ask
Some high encitement to so hard a task.
And therefore have we written, O man, for thee
The book that follows, here its plan proclaim—
Help for thy Soul—help that the soul may see
In evil days her best, her noblest aim,
And ever faithful to that end may be,
Though faith should fail, though truth her hope disclaim.
And, ‘mid the general lapse from light, may find
No impulse left for the exalted mind!
What inspiration from the heaven came down
To fill the brain? What angel bade us write?
Oh, in the green fields, in the crowded town,
And in the sunshine or the starry night,
Those thoughts descended which in Soul are sown,
And ripen’d in us, as the flowers in light—
Their strength supports us, from the ample store
We scatter; may they number more and more!
Oh, may this book, by our own heart created,
Be life in all to whom its dream is told—
To draw the world up God’s steep path be fated,
Till all the splendid prospect shall behold,
And on those heights all Souls be reinstated,
From which perchance they lapsed in days of old;
Or those attain whose altitude till then,
Though dimly dream’d, was never known by men!
— A E Waite, “Proem” from Azoth, or the Star in the East
The Hermetic Library arts and letters pool is a project to publish poetry, prose and art that is inspired by or manifests the Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to submit your work for consideration as part of the Arts and Letters pool, contact the librarian.