31 December 2010

The Food of the Gods

The following text is from the last page and a half of H G Wells’s The Food of the Gods. When I was twelve I regarded this as the most inspiring passage of prose I had ever come across. I still find it expresses something I can feel identified with.

‘It is not that we would oust the little people from the world,’ he said, ‘in order that we, who are no more than one step upwards from their littleness, may hold their world for ever. It is the step we fight for and not ourselves.’

‘We are here, Brothers, to what end? To serve the spirit and the purpose that has been breathed into our lives. We fight not for ourselves, for we are but the momentary hands and eyes of the life of the World ... Through us and through the little folk the Spirit looks and learns. From us by word and birth and act it must pass – to still greater lives.’

‘This earth is no resting place; this earth is no playing place ... We fight not for ourselves but for growth – growth that goes on for ever. Tomorrow, whether we live or die, growth will conquer through us. That is the law of the spirit for ever more. To grow according to the will of God! To grow out of these cracks and crannies, out of these shadows and darknesses, into greatness and the light!’

‘Greater’, he said, speaking with slow deliberation, ‘greater, my Brothers! And then – still greater. To grow and again – to grow. To grow at last into the fellowship and understanding of God. Growing. Till the earth is no more than a footstool. Till the spirit shall have driven fear into nothingness, and spread ...’ He swung his arm heavenward: – ‘There!’

His voice ceased. The white glare of one of the searchlights wheeled about, and for a moment fell upon him, standing out gigantic with hand upraised against the sky.

For one instant he shone, looking up fearlessly into the starry deeps, mail-clad, young and strong, resolute and still. Then the light had passed and he was no more than a great black outline against the starry sky – a great black outline that threatened with one mighty gesture the firmament of heaven and all its multitude of stars.