Opening Speech: Socrates, A Tragedy in Five Acts (Francis Foster Barham)


ACT I. Scene I.— Athens.

Socrates solus, basking in the sunshine.

Philosophers have many a pleasure — known–
Felt — by themselves — which to the vulgar world
They rarely express : and when they do, how seldom
Do the hearts of men respond ! — Ay, at this moment
There is a rapture in this sunshine — spreading
Its hot o’erwhelming lustre over Athens,
Which they conceive not ; —
Unto me it is Symbolic of the incommunicable flame
Of Deity ! It seems to embrace me, like
The beatific vision of Olympus,
Transforming what it shines on, to its likeness ;
It enters into my very soul, and makes
A summer of my conscience! — I rejoice
To anticipate the eternity when I
Likewise shall be as a sunbeam.

Johnson, recall, complained of Milton’s great poem that no one ever wished it longer.  I doubt Johnson believed such a wish was rejected as early as the first few of Milton’s lines.  Here, however…

Socrates, the sunbeam!

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