The Neophyte

TO-NIGHT 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?

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,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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,

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:

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

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

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.

                                                                           [Aleister Crowley]

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