Henry Vaughan.


372   The Retreat

   HAPPY those early days, when I
Shin’d in my Angel-infancy!
Before I understood this place
Appointed for my second race,
Or taught my soul to fancy aught
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 gilded cloud, or flow’r,
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 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’ enlightned 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.

373   Peace

MY soul, there is a country
   Far beyond the stars,
Where stands a wingàed sentry
   All skilful 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.

374   The Timber

SURE thou didst flourish once! and many springs,
   Many bright mornings, much dew, many showers,
Pass’d o’er thy head; many light hearts and wings,
   Which now are dead, lodg’d in thy living bowers.

And still a new succession sings and flies;
   Fresh groves grow up, and their green branches shoot
Towards the old and still enduring skies,
   While the low violet thrives at their root.

But thou beneath the sad and heavy line
   Of death, doth waste all senseless, cold, and dark;
Where not so much as dreams of light may shine,
   Nor any thought of greenness, leaf, or bark.

And yet—as if some deep hate and dissent,
   Bred in thy growth betwixt high winds and thee,
Were still alive—thou dost great storms resent
   Before they come, and know’st how near they be.

Else all at rest thou liest, and the fierce breath
   Of tempests can no more disturb thy ease;
But this thy strange resentment after death
   Means only those who broke—in life—thy peace.

375   Friends Departed

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 drest
           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.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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