Henry Vaughan

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My soul, there is a country
Far beyond the stars
Where stands a wingèd sentry
All skillful in the wars..

Henry Vaughan (April 17, 1622April 28, 1695) was a Welsh Metaphysical poet and a doctor, the twin brother of the philosopher Thomas Vaughan.

Sourced[edit]

  • As men are killed by fighting, the truth is lost in disputing.
    • Preface to Hermetical Physick of Henry Nollus (1655)

Silex Scintillans (1655)[edit]

O for that Night! where I in Him
Might live invisible and dim!
My gazing soul would dwell an hour,
And in those weaker glories spy
Some shadows of eternity...
Quickly would I make my path even,
And by mere playing go to heaven.
An age of mysteries! which he
Must live that would God's face see
Which angels guard, and with it play,
Angels! which foul men drive away.
I saw Eternity the other night
Like a great ring of pure and endless light.
As angels in some brighter dreams
Call to the soul when man doth sleep,
So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes,
And into glory peep.
When I behold thee, though my light be dim,
Distant, and low, I can in thine see Him
Who looks upon thee from his glorious throne,
And mindes the covenant 'twixt all and One.
Tempests and windes and winter-nights
Vex not, that but One sees thee grow,
That One made all these lesser lights.
Keep clean, be as fruit, earn life, and watch
Till the white-wing’d reapers come!
  • Holy writing must strive (by all means) for perfection and true holiness, that a door may be opened to him in heaven.
    • Preface
  • Dear Night! this world's defeat;
    The stop to busy fools; care's check and curb;
    The day of spirits; my soul's calm retreat
    Which none disturb!

    Christ's progress, and His prayer-time;
    The hours to which high Heaven doth chime.
    • "The Night," l. 25.
  • There is in God — some say —
    A deep, but dazzling darkness; as men here
    Say it is late and dusky, because they
    See not all clear.
    O for that Night! where I in Him
    Might live invisible and dim!
    • "The Night," l. 49.
  • Happy those early days, when I
    Shined in my angel-infancy!
    Before I understood this place
    Appointed for my second race.
    • "The Retreat," l. 1.
  • When yet I had not walk'd above
    A mile or two from my first Love,
    And looking back, at that short space
    Could see a glimpse of His bright face;
    When on some gilded cloud or flower
    My gazing soul would dwell an hour,
    And in those weaker glories spy
    Some shadows of eternity;
    Before I taught my tongue to wound
    My conscience with a sinful sound,
    Or had the black art to dispense
    A several sin to every sense,
    But felt through all this fleshly dress
    Bright shoots of everlastingness.
    • "The Retreat," l. 7 - 19.
  • Some men a forward motion love,
    But I by backward steps would move.
    • "The Retreat," l. 29.
  • I cannot reach it, and my striving eye
    Dazzles at it, as at eternity.

    Were now that chronicle alive,
    Those white designs which children drive,
    And the thoughts of each harmless hour,
    With their content too in my pow'r,
    Quickly would I make my path even,
    And by mere playing go to heaven.

    • "Childhood".
  • Why should I not love childhood still?
    Why, if I see a rock or shelf,
    Shall I from thence cast down myself?
    Or by complying with the world,
    From the same precipice be hurled?
    Those observations are but foul,
    Which make me wise to lose my soul.

    And yet the practice worldlings call
    Business, and weighty action all,
    Checking the poor child for his play,
    But gravely cast themselves away.

    • "Childhood".
  • Dear, harmless age! the short, swift span
    Where weeping Virtue parts with man;
    Where love without lust dwells, and bends
    What way we please without self-ends.

    An age of mysteries! which he
    Must live that would God's face see
    Which angels guard, and with it play,
    Angels! which foul men drive away.

    • "Childhood".
  • I saw Eternity the other night
    Like a great ring of pure and endless light.
    All calm, as it was bright;
    And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years,
    Driv'n by the spheres
    Like a vast shadow moved; in which the world
    And all her train were hurled.
    • "The World".
  • They are all gone into the world of light!
    And I alone sit lingering here;
    Their very memory is fair and bright,
    And my sad thoughts doth clear.
    • "They Are All Gone," st. 1.
  • I see them walking in an air of glory
    Whose light doth trample on my days,
    My days, which are at best but dull and hoary,
    Mere glimmering and decays.
    • "They Are All Gone," st. 3.
  • Dear, beauteous death, the jewel of the just!
    Shining nowhere but in the dark;
    What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust,
    Could man outlook that mark!
    • "They Are All Gone," st. 5.
  • And yet, as angels in some brighter dreams
    Call to the soul when man doth sleep,
    So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes,
    And into glory peep.
    • "They Are All Gone," st. 7.
  • My soul, there is a country
    Far beyond the stars
    Where stands a wingèd sentry
    All skillful in the wars
    :
    There, above noise and danger,
    Sweet Peace is crowned with smiles,
    And One born in a manger
    Commands the beauteous files.
    • "Peace," st. 1.
  • Still young and fine! but what is still in view
    We slight as old and soil'd, though fresh and new.
    • "The Rainbow".
  • When thou dost shine, darkness looks white and fair,
    Forms turn to musick, clouds to smiles and air;
    Rain gently spends his honey-drops, and pours
    Balm on the cleft earth, milk on grass and flowers.
    Bright pledge of peace and sun-shine! the sure tye
    Of thy Lord's hand, the object of his eye.
    When I behold thee, though my light be dim,
    Distant, and low, I can in thine see Him
    Who looks upon thee from his glorious throne,
    And mindes the covenant 'twixt all and One.
    • "The Rainbow".
  • I will on thee as on a comet look,
    A comet, the sad world's ill-boding book;
    Thy light as luctual and stain'd with woes
    I'll judge, where penal flames sit mixt and close.
    But though some think thou shin'st but to restrain
    Bold storms, and simply dost attend on rain;
    Yet I know well, and so our sins require,
    Thou dost but court cold rain, till rain turns fire.
    • "The Rainbow".
  • Tempests and windes and winter-nights
    Vex not, that but One sees thee grow,
    That One made all these lesser lights.

    If those bright joys He singly sheds
    On thee, were all met in one crown,
    Both sun and stars would hide their heads ;
    And moons, though full, would get them down.
    • "The Seed Growing Secretly".
  • Then bless thy secret growth, nor catch
    At noise, but thrive unseen and dumb;
    Keep clean, be as fruit, earn life, and watch
    Till the white-wing’d reapers come!
    • "The Seed Growing Secretly".

External links[edit]

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