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Best Famous Henry Vaughan Poems

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by 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.


by Henry Vaughan |

They are all Gone into the World of Light

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

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

9 I see them walking in an air of glory,
10 Whose light doth trample on my days:
11 My days, which are at best but dull and hoary,
12 Mere glimmering and decays.

13 O holy Hope! and high Humility,
14 High as the heavens above!
15 These are your walks, and you have show'd them me
16 To kindle my cold love.

17 Dear, beauteous Death! the jewel of the just,
18 Shining nowhere, but in the dark;
19 What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust
20 Could man outlook that mark!

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

25 And yet as angels in some brighter dreams
26 Call to the soul, when man doth sleep:
27 So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes
28 And into glory peep.

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

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

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


by 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.


by Henry Vaughan |

The Morning-Watch

 1 O joys! infinite sweetness! with what flow'rs
2 And shoots of glory my soul breaks and buds!
3 All the long hours
4 Of night, and rest,
5 Through the still shrouds
6 Of sleep, and clouds,
7 This dew fell on my breast;
8 Oh, how it bloods
9 And spirits all my earth! Hark! In what rings
10 And hymning circulations the quick world
11 Awakes and sings;
12 The rising winds
13 And falling springs,
14 Birds, beasts, all things
15 Adore him in their kinds.
16 Thus all is hurl'd
17 In sacred hymns and order, the great chime
18 And symphony of nature. Prayer is
19 The world in tune,
20 A spirit voice,
21 And vocal joys
22 Whose echo is heav'n's bliss.
23 O let me climb
24 When I lie down! The pious soul by night
25 Is like a clouded star whose beams, though said
26 To shed their light
27 Under some cloud,
28 Yet are above,
29 And shine and move
30 Beyond that misty shroud.
31 So in my bed,
32 That curtain'd grave, though sleep, like ashes, hide
33 My lamp and life, both shall in thee abide.


by Henry Vaughan |

The Water-Fall

 1 With what deep murmurs through time's silent stealth
2 Doth thy transparent, cool, and wat'ry wealth
3 Here flowing fall,
4 And chide, and call,
5 As if his liquid, loose retinue stay'd
6 Ling'ring, and were of this steep place afraid;
7 The common pass
8 Where, clear as glass,
9 All must descend
10 Not to an end,
11 But quicken'd by this deep and rocky grave,
12 Rise to a longer course more bright and brave.

13 Dear stream! dear bank, where often I
14 Have sate and pleas'd my pensive eye,
15 Why, since each drop of thy quick store
16 Runs thither whence it flow'd before,
17 Should poor souls fear a shade or night,
18 Who came, sure, from a sea of light?
19 Or since those drops are all sent back
20 So sure to thee, that none doth lack,
21 Why should frail flesh doubt any more
22 That what God takes, he'll not restore?

23 O useful element and clear!
24 My sacred wash and cleanser here,
25 My first consigner unto those
26 Fountains of life where the Lamb goes!
27 What sublime truths and wholesome themes
28 Lodge in thy mystical deep streams!
29 Such as dull man can never find
30 Unless that Spirit lead his mind
31 Which first upon thy face did move,
32 And hatch'd all with his quick'ning love.
33 As this loud brook's incessant fall
34 In streaming rings restagnates all,
35 Which reach by course the bank, and then
36 Are no more seen, just so pass men.
37 O my invisible estate,
38 My glorious liberty, still late!
39 Thou art the channel my soul seeks,
40 Not this with cataracts and creeks.


by Henry Vaughan |

The True Christians

 So stick up ivy and the bays,
And then restore the heathen ways.
Green will remind you of the spring,
Though this great day denies the thing.
And mortifies the earth and all
But your wild revels, and loose hall.
Could you wear flowers, and roses strow
Blushing upon your breasts' warm snow,
That very dress your lightness will
Rebuke, and wither at the ill.
The brightness of this day we owe
Not unto music, masque, nor show:
Nor gallant furniture, nor plate;
But to the manger's mean estate.
His life while here, as well as birth,
Was but a check to pomp and mirth;
And all man's greatness you may see
Condemned by His humility.
Then leave your open house and noise,
To welcome Him with holy joys,
And the poor shepherd's watchfulness:
Whom light and hymns from heaven did bless.
What you abound with, cast abroad
To those that want, and ease your load.
Who empties thus, will bring more in;
But riot is both loss and sin.
Dress finely what comes not in sight,
And then you keep your Christmas right.


by Henry Vaughan |

The Shepherds

 Sweet, harmless lives! (on whose holy leisure
Waits innocence and pleasure),
Whose leaders to those pastures, and clear springs,
Were patriarchs, saints, and kings,
How happened it that in the dead of night
You only saw true light,
While Palestine was fast asleep, and lay
Without one thought of day?
Was it because those first and blessed swains
Were pilgrims on those plains
When they received the promise, for which now
'Twas there first shown to you?
'Tis true, He loves that dust whereon they go
That serve Him here below,
And therefore might for memory of those
His love there first disclose;
But wretched Salem, once His love, must now
No voice, nor vision know,
Her stately piles with all their height and pride
Now languished and died,
And Bethlem's humble cotes above them stepped
While all her seers slept;
Her cedar, fir, hewed stones and gold were all
Polluted through their fall,
And those once sacred mansions were now
Mere emptiness and show;
This made the angel call at reeds and thatch,
Yet where the shepherds watch,
And God's own lodging (though He could not lack)
To be a common rack;
No costly pride, no soft-clothed luxury
In those thin cells could lie,
Each stirring wind and storm blew through their cots
Which never harbored plots,
Only content, and love, and humble joys
Lived there without all noise,
Perhaps some harmless cares for the next day
Did in their bosoms play,
As where to lead their sheep, what silent nook,
What springs or shades to look,
But that was all; and now with gladsome care
They for the town prepare,
They leave their flock, and in a busy talk
All towards Bethlem walk
To see their souls' Great Shepherd, Who was come
To bring all stragglers home,
Where now they find Him out, and taught before
That Lamb of God adore,
That Lamb whose days great kings and prophets wished
And longed to see, but missed.
The first light they beheld was bright and gay
And turned their night to day,
But to this later light they saw in Him,
Their day was dark, and dim.


by Henry Vaughan |

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.


by Henry Vaughan |

The Revival

 1 Unfold! unfold! Take in His light,
2 Who makes thy cares more short than night.
3 The joys which with His day-star rise,
4 He deals to all but drowsy eyes;
5 And (what the men of this world miss)
6 Some drops and dews of future bliss.

7 Hark! how his winds have chang'd their note,
8 And with warm whispers call thee out.
9 The frosts are past, the storms are gone,
10 And backward life at last comes on.
11 The lofty groves in express joys
12 Reply unto the turtle's voice;
13 And here in dust and dirt, O here
14 The lilies of His love appear!


by Henry Vaughan |

The Retreat

 1 Happy those early days, when I
2 Shin'd in my angel-infancy!
3 Before I understood this place
4 Appointed for my second race,
5 Or taught my soul to fancy ought
6 But a white, celestial thought;
7 When yet I had not walk'd above
8 A mile or two from my first love,
9 And looking back (at that short space)
10 Could see a glimpse of his bright face;
11 When on some gilded cloud or flow'r
12 My gazing soul would dwell an hour,
13 And in those weaker glories spy
14 Some shadows of eternity;
15 Before I taught my tongue to wound
16 My conscience with a sinful sound,
17 Or had the black art to dispense,
18 A sev'ral sin to ev'ry sense,
19 But felt through all this fleshly dress
20 Bright shoots of everlastingness.

21 O how I long to travel back,
22 And tread again that ancient track!
23 That I might once more reach that plain,
24 Where first I left my glorious train,
25 From whence th' enlighten'd spirit sees
26 That shady city of palm trees.
27 But ah! my soul with too much stay
28 Is drunk, and staggers in the way.
29 Some men a forward motion love,
30 But I by backward steps would move;
31 And when this dust falls to the urn,
32 In that state I came, return.