The Glorious Seventeeth Century--Henry Vaughn


The Glorious Seventeeth Century--Henry Vaughn

I truly love the wonders of seventeenth century poetry. It seems a rather arcane taste shared by relatively few. T. S. Eliot liked a few of the poets (the Metaphysicals) with a particular fondness for John Donne. But I like most of them--Metaphysical and Cavaliers, and part of the reason is that they wrote in a time when Spirit and Flesh had not the enormous division that grew in western culture. You were not body and spirit, but you were body/spirit. The ramifications are enormous, and largely lost to us. All that said, the following poem has nothing to do with the question (well, not nothing, but little enough).

by Henry Vaughan

WITH what deep murmurs, through Time's silent stealth,
Doth thy transparent, cool, and wat'ry wealth,
Here flowing fall,
And chide and call,
As if his liquid, loose retinue stay'd
Ling'ring, and were of this steep place afraid,
The common pass,
Where clear as glass,
All must descend
Not to an end,
But quick'ned by this deep and rocky grave,
Rise to a longer course more bright and brave.

Dear stream ! dear bank ! where often I
Have sat, and pleased my pensive eye ;
Why, since each drop of thy quick store
Runs thither whence it flow'd before,
Should poor souls fear a shade or night,
Who came—sure—from a sea of light ?
Or, since those drops are all sent back
So sure to Thee that none doth lack,
Why should frail flesh doubt any more
That what God takes He'll not restore ?

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

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 6, 2002 8:21 AM.

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