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Regeneration

              1.

    A WARD, and still in bonds, one day
             I stole abroad,
    It was high-spring, and all the way
    Primros'd, and hung with shade;
    Yet, was it frost within,
             And surly winds
    Blasted my infant buds, and sin
    Like clouds eclips'd my mind.

              2.

    Storm'd thus; I straight perceiv'd my spring
        Mere stage, and show,
    My walk a monstrous, mountain's thing
         Rough-cast with rocks, and snow;
         And as a pilgrim's eye
        Far from relief,
    Measures the melancholy sky
         Then drops, and rains for grief,

              3.

    So sigh'd I upwards still, at last
              'Twixt steps, and falls
    I reach'd the pinnacle, where plac'd
    I found a pair of scales,
    I took them up and laid
              In th'one late pains,
    The other smoke, and pleasures weigh'd
    But prov'd the heavier grains;

              4.

    With that, some cried, Away; straight I
              Obey'd, and led
    Full east, a fair, fresh field could spy
    Some call'd it Jacob's Bed;
    A virgin-soil, which no
              Rude feet ere trod,
    Where (since he slept there,) only go
    Prophets, and friends of God.

              5.

    Here, I repos'd; but scarce well set,
         A grove descried
    Of stately height, whose branches met
    And mixed on every side;
    I entered, and once in
         (Amaz'd to see't,)
    Found all was chang'd, and a new spring
    Did all my senses greet;

              6.

    The unthrift sun shot vital gold
             A thousand pieces,
    And heaven its azure did unfold
    Checker'd with snowy fleeces,
    The air was all in spice
             And every bush
    A garland wore; thus fed my eyes
    But all the ear lay hush.

              7.

    Only a little fountain lent
         Some use for ears,
    And on the dumb shades language spent
    The music of her tears;
    I drew her near, and found
         The cistern full
    Of diverse stones, some bright, and round
    Others ill'shap'd, and dull.

              8.

    The first (pray mark,) as quick as light
              Danc'd through the flood,
    But, th'last more heavy than the night
    Nail'd to the center stood;
    I wonder'd much, but tir'd
        At last with thought,
    My restless eye that still desir'd
    As strange an object brought;

              9.

    It was a bank of flowers, where I descried
        (Though 'twas mid'day,)
    Some fast asleep, others broad-eyed
    And taking in the ray,
    Here musing long, I heard
         A rushing wind
    Which still increas'd, but whence it stirr'd
    No where I could not find;

              10.

    I turn'd me round, and to each shade
        Dispatch'd an eye,
    To see, if any leaf had made
    Least motion, or reply,
    But while I listening sought
         My mind to ease
    By knowing, where 'twas, or where not,
    It whispered: Where I please.
    Lord, then said I, On me one breath,
    And let me die before my death!

    Henry Vaughan

The Retreat

    HAPPY those early days! when I
    Shin'd in my angel-infancy.
    Before I understood this place
    Appoint'd for my second race,
    Or taught my soul to fancy ought
    But a white, celestial thought,
    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 gild'd cloud or flower
    My gazing soul would dwell an hour,
    And in those weaker glories spy
    Some shodows of eternity;
    Before I taught my tongue to wound
    My conscience with a sinful sound,
    Or had the black art to dispence
    A sev'ral sin to ev'ry sense,
    But felt through all this fleshly dress
    Bright shoots of everlastingness.
    O how I long to travel back
    And tread again that ancient track!
    That I might once more reach that plain,
    Where first I left my glorious train,
    From whence th'enlightened spirit sees
    That shady city of palm trees;
    But (ah!) my soul with too much stay
    Is drunk, and staggers in the way.
    Some men a forward motion love,
    But I by backward steps would move,
    And when this dust falls to the urn
    In that state I came return.

    Henry Vaughan

The Morning Watch

    O JOYS! Infinite sweetness! with what flowers,
    And shoots of glory, my soul breaks, and buds!
    All the long hours
    Of night, and rest
    Through the still shrouds
    Of sleep, and clouds,
    This dew fell on my breast;
    O how it bloods,
    And spirits all my earth! hark! In what rings,
    And hymning circulations the quick world
    Awakes, and sings;
    The rising winds,
    And fallings springs,
    Birds, beasts, all things
    Adore him in their kinds.
    Thus all is hurl'd
    In sacr'd hymns, and order, the great chime
    And symphony of nature. Prayer is
    The world in tune,
    A spirit-voice,
    And vocal joys
    Whose echo is heav'n's bliss.
    O let me climb
    When I lie down! The pious soul by night
    Is like a clouded star, whose beams though said
    To shed their light
    Under some cloud
    Yet are above,
    And shine, and move
    Beyond that misty shroud.
    So in my bed
    That curtain'd grave, though sleep, like ashes hide
    My lamp, and life, both shall in thee abide.

    Henry Vaughan

The World

              1.

    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 is hours, days, years
    Driven by the spheres
    Like a vast shadow mov'd, in which the world
    And all her train were hurl'd;
    The doting lover in his quaintest strain
    Did there complain,
    Near him, his lute, his fancy, and his flights,
    Wit's sour delights,
    With gloves, and knots the silly snares of pleasure
    Yet his dear treasure
    All scatter'd lay, while he his eyes did pour
    Upon a flower.

              2.

    The darksome statesman hung with weights and woe
    Like a thick midnight fog mov'd there so slow
    He did nor stay, nor go;
    Condemning thoughts (like sad eclipses) scowl
    Upon his soul,
    And clouds of crying witnesses without
    Pursued him with one shout.
    Yet digg'd the mole, and lest his ways be found
    Work'd under ground,
    Where he did clutch his prey, but one did see
    That policy,
    Churches and altars fed him, perjuries
    Were gnats and flies,
    It rain'd about him blood and tears, but he
    Drank them as free.

              3.

    The fearful miser on a heap of rust
    Sat pining all his life there, did scarce trust
    His own hands with the dust,
    But would not place one piece above, but lives
    In fear of thieves.
    Thousands there were as frantic as himself
    And hugg'd each one his pelf,
    The downright epicure plac'd heav'n in sense
    And scorn'd pretnece
    While others slipt into a wide excess
    Said little less;
    The weaker sort slight, trivial wares enslave
    Who think them brave,
    And poor, despised Truth sat counting by
    Their victory.

              4.

    Yet some, who all this while did weep and sing,
    And sing, and weep, soar'd up into the Ring,
    But most would use no wing.
    O fools (said I,) thus to prefer dark night
    Before true light,
    To live in grots, and caves, and hate the day
    Because it shows the way,
    The way which from the dead and dark abode
    Leads up to God,
    A way where you might tread the Sun, and be
    More bright than he.
    But as I did their madness so discuss
    One whisper'd thus,
    "This Ring the Bridegroom did for none provide
    But for his bride."

    Henry Vaughan

Silence and stealth of days

    SILENCE, and stealth of days! 'tis now
                Since thou art gone,
    Twelve hundred hours, and not a brow
                But clouds hang on.
    As he that in some cave's thick damp
                Lockt from the light,
    Fixeth a solitary lamp,
                To brave the night,
    And walking from his sun, when past
                That glim'ring ray
    Cuts through the heavy mists in haste
                Back to his day,
    So o'r fled minutes I retreat
                Unto that hour
    Which show'd thee last, but did defeat
                Thy light, and power,
    I search, and rack my soul to see
                Those beams again,
    But nothing but the snuff to me
                Appeareth plain;
    That dark and dead sleeps in its known
                And common urn,
    But those fled to their Maker's throne
                There shine and burn;
    O could I track them! but souls must
                Track one the other,
    And now the spirit, not the dust,
                Must be thy brother.
    Yet I have one Pearl by whose light
                All things I see,
    And in the heart of earth and night
                Find heaven and thee.

    Henry Vaughan

They are all gone into the world of light

    THEY are all gone into the world of light!
    And I alone sit ling'ring here;
    Their very memory is fair and bright,
    And my sad thoughts doth clear.

    It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast
    Like stars upon some gloomy grove,
    Or those faint beams in which this hill is dressed,
    After the sun's remove.

    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.

    O holy hope! and high humility,
    High as the Heavens above!
    These are your walks, and you have show'd them me
    To kindle my cold love,

    Dear, beauteous death! the jewel of the just,
    Shining no where, but in the dark;
    What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust;
    Could man outlook that mark!

    He that hath found some fledg'd bird's nest, may know
    At first sight, if the bird be flown;
    But what fair well or grove he sings in now,
    That is to him unknown.

    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.

    If a star were confin'd into a tomb
    Her captive flames must needs burn there;
    But when the hand that lockt her up gives room,
    She'll shine through all the sphere.

    O Father of eternal life, and all
    Created glories under thee!
    Resume thy spirit from this world of thrall
    Into true liberty.

    Either disperse these mists, which blot and fill
    My perspective (still) as they pass,
    Or else remove me hence unto that hill,
    Where I shall need no glass.

    Henry Vaughan

Peace

    MY soul, there is a country
    Far beyond the stars,
    Where stands a winged sentry
    All skillful in the wars,
    There above noise, and danger
    Sweet peace sits crown'd with smiles,
    And one born in a manger
    Commands the beauteous files,
    He is thy gracious friend,
    And (O my soul awake!)
    Did in pure love descend
    To die here for thy sake,
    If thou canst get but thither,
    There grows the flower of peace,
    The rose that cannot wither
    Thy fortress, and thy ease;
    Leave then thy foolish ranges;
    For none can thee secure,
    But one who never changes,
    Thy God, thy life, thy cure.

    Henry Vaughan

The Relapse

    MY God, how gracious art thou! I had slipt
                  Almost to hell,
    And on the verge of that dark, dreadful pit
                  Did hear them yell,
    But O thy love! thy rich, almighty love
                  That sav'd my soul,
    And checkt their fury, when I saw them move,
                  And heard them howl;
    O my sole comfort, take no more these ways,
                  This hideous path,
    And I will mend my own without delays,
                  Cease thou thy wrath!
    I have deserv'd a thick, Egyptian damp,
                  Dark as my deeds,
    Should mist within me, and put out that lamp
                  Thy spirit feeds;
    A darting conscience full of stabs and fears;
                  No shade but Yew,
    Sullen, and sad eclipses, cloudy spheres,
                  These are my due.
    But he that with his blood, (a price too dear,)
                  My scores did pay,
    Bid me, by virtue from him, challenge here
                  The brightest day;
    Sweet, downy thoughts; soft lily-shades; calm streams;
                  Joys full and true;
    Fresh, spicy mornings; and eternal beams
                  These are his due.

    Henry Vaughan

Unprofitableness

    HOW rich, O Lord! how fresh thy visits are!
    'Twas but just now my bleak leaves hopeless hung
     Sullied with dust and mud;
    Each snarling blast shot through me, and did share
    Their youth, and beauty, cold showers nipt, and wrung
     Their spiciness and blood;
    But since thou didst in one sweet glance survey
    Their sad decays, I flourish, and once more
     Breath all perfumes, and spice;
    I smell a dew like myrrh, and all the day
    Wear in my bosom a full sun; such store
     Hath one beam from thy eyes.
    But, ah, my God! what fruit hast thou of this?
    What one poor leaf did ever I yet fall
     To wait upon thy wreath?
    Thus thou all day a thankless weed dost dress,
    And when th'hast done, a stench or fog is all
     The odor I bequeath.

    Henry Vaughan

Upon the Priory Grove, His Usual Retirement

    HAIL sacred shades! cool, leavy House!
    Chaste treasurer of all my vows,
    And wealth! on whose soft bosom laid
    My love's fair steps I first betrayed:
    Henceforth no melancholy flight,
    No sad wing, or hoarse bird of night,
    Disturb this air, no fatal throat
    Of raven, or owl, awake the note
    Of our laid echo, no voice dwell
    Within these leaves, but Philomel.
    The poisonous ivy here no more
    His false twists on the oak shall score,
    Only the woodbine here may twine
    As th'emblem of her love and mine;
    Th'amorous sun shall here convey
    His best beams, in thy shades to play;
    The active air, the gentlest showers
    Shall from his wings rain on thy flowers;
    And the moon from her dewy locks
    Shall deck thee with her brightest drops:
    What ever can a fancy move,
    Or feed the eye; be on this Grove;
    And when at last the winds and tears
    Of Heaven, with the consuming years,
    Shall these green curls bring to decay,
    And clothe thee in an aged gray:
    (If ought a lover can foresee;
    Or if we poets, prophets be)
    From hence transplant'd, thou shalt stand
    A fresh Grove in th'Elysian land;
    Where (most blest pair!) as here on earth
    Thou first didst eye our growth and birth;
    So there again, thou'lt see us move
    In our first innocence, and love:
    And in thy shades, as now, so then,
    We'll kiss, and smile, and walk again.

    Henry Vaughan

Son-days

                   1

    BRIGHT shadows of true Rest! some shoots of bliss,
                   Heaven once a week;
    The next world's gladness prepossest in this;
                   A day to seek;
    Eternity in time; the steps by which
    We Climb above all ages; Lamps that light
    Man through his heap of dark days; and the rich,
    And full redemption of the whole week's flight.

                        2

    The Pulleys unto headlong man; time's bower;
                        The narrow way;
    Transplanted Paradise; God's walking hour;
                        The Cool o'th' day;
    The Creatures' _Jubilee_; God's parle with dust;
    Heaven here; Man on the hills of Myrrh, and flowers;
    Angels descending; the Returns of Trust;
    A Gleam of glory, after six-days'-showers.

                        3

    The Church's love-feasts; Time's Prerogative,
                         And Interest
    Deducted from the whole; The Combs, and hive,
                         And home of rest.
    The milky way chalked out with suns; a clue
    That guides through erring hours; and in full story
    A taste of Heav'n on earth; the pledge, and cue
    Of a full feast: And the Out Courts of glory.

    Henry Vaughan

Retirement

    [Ed. Note: In line 25, the phrase "heaven lies leiger" means "heaven resides as an ambassador." --Nelson]

    FRESH fields and woods! the Earth's fair face,
    God's foot-stool, and man's dwelling-place.
    I ask not why the first Believer*                  [Abraham]
    Did love to be a country liver?
    Who to secure pious content
    Did pitch by groves and wells his tent;
    Where he might view the boundless sky,
    And all those glorious lights on high;
    With flying meteors, mists and show'rs,
    Subjected hills, trees, meads and flow'rs;
    And ev'ry minute bless the King
    And wise Creator of each thing.
      I ask not why he did remove
    To happy Mamre's holy grove,
    Leaving the cities of the plain
    To Lot and his successless train?
    All various lusts in cities still
    Are found; they are the thrones of ill;
    The dismal sinks, where blood is spill'd,
    Cages with much uncleanness fill'd.
    But rural shades are the sweet fense*                [defense]
    Of piety and innocence.
    They are the Meek's calm region, where
    Angels descend and rule the sphere,
    Where heaven lies leiger, and the dove
    Duly as dew, comes from above.
    If Eden be on Earth at all,
    'Tis that, which we the country call.

    Henry Vaughan

The Revival

    UNFOLD, unfold! take in His light,
    Who makes thy Cares more short than night.
    The Joys, which with His Day-star rise,
    He deals to all, but drowsy eyes;
    And what the men of this world miss,
    Some drops and dews of future bliss.
      Hark! how His winds have chang'd their note,
    And with warm whispers call thee out;
    The frosts are past, the storms are gone,
    And backward life at last comes on.
    The lofty groves in express joys
    Reply unto the turtle's* voice,                [a turtle dove]
    And here in dust and dirt, O here
    The lilies of His love appear!

    Henry Vaughan


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