Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Henry Vaughan, The Complete Poems, Ed. Alan Rudrum, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1976.

Gentlemen, To you alone,  whose more refined spirits out-wing these dull times, and soar above the drudgery of dirty intelligence, have I made these secret fancies: I know the years, and what coarse entertainment they afford poetry. If any shall question that courage that durst send me abroad so late, and reveal it thus in the dregs of an age, they have my silence… (To All Ingenious Lovers of Poesy, 31)

Had she professed hidden fires,
Or showed one knot that tied her heart:
I could have quenched my first desires,
And we had only met to part;

(Song, 36)

Fancy, and I, last evening walked,
And, Amoret, of thee we talked;
The West just then had stol’n the Sun,
And his last blushes were begun:
We sat, and marked how every thing
Did mourn his absence; how the Spring
That smiled, and curled about his beams,
Whilst he was here, now checked her streams:
The wanton eddies of her face
Were taught less noise, and smoother grace;
And in a slow, sad channel went,
Whispering the banks their discontent:
The careless ranks of flowers that spread
Their perfumed bosoms to his head,
And with an open, free embrace,
Did entertain his beamy face;
Like absent friends point to the west,
And on that weak reflection feast.
If creatures then that have no sense,
But the loose tie of influence,
(Though fate, and time each day remove
Those things that element their love)
At such vast distance can agree,
Why, Amoret, why should not we?

(To Amoret Gone from Him, complete, 37-8)

I made the Indian curse the hours he spent
To seek his pearls, and wisely to repent
His former folly, and confess a sin
Charmed by the brighter lustre of thy skin.

(An Elegy, 39)

This to brave Sylla! why should it be said,
We drink more to the living, than the dead?

(A Rhapsody, 41)

But grant some richer planet at my birth
Had spied me out, and measured so much earth
Or gold unto my share; I should have been
Slave to these lower elements, and seen
My high born soul flag with their dross, & lie
A prisoner to base mud, and alchemy;
I should perhaps eat orphans, and such up
A dozen distressed widows in one cup;
Nay further, I should by that lawful stealth,
(Damned usury) undo the Common-wealth;
Or patent it in soap, and coals, and so
Have the smiths curse me, and my laundress too;
Geld wine, or his friend tobacco; and so bring
The incensed subject rebel to his king;
And after all (as those first sinners fell)
Sink lower than my gold; and lie in hell.

(To Amoret Weeping, 44 [$])

…though these reputed obstacles have lain long in my way, yet neither of them could work upon me: for I am now (without adulation) as warm and sensible of those numerous favours, and kind influences received sometimes form your Lordship, as I really was at the instant of fruition. (To the Truly Noble, and Most Excellently Accomplished, the Lord Kildare Digby, 66)

Where the sun is busy upon a dung-hill, the issue is always some unclean vermin. (The Author’s Preface to the Following Hymns, from Silex Scintillans, 139  [When great wit is extended to base subject, the product is base, as where the sun is busy…)

If every idle word shall be accounted for, and if no corrupt communication should proceed out of our mouths, how desperate (I beseech you) is their condition, who all their life time, and out of mere design, study lascivious fictions: then carefully record and publish them, that instead of grace and life, they may minister sin and death unto their readers? It was wisely considered, and piously said by one, …. I will write none, lest I hurt them that come after me; I will read none, lest I augment his punishment that is gone before me. I will neither write, nor read, lest I prove a foe to my own soul: while I live, I sin too much; let me not continue longer in wickedness, than I do in life. [unidentified source, regarding idle books] (The Author’s Preface to the Following Hymns, from Silex Scintillans, 140)

The skin, and shell of things
          Though fair
               are not
       Thy wish, nor prayer
               but got
         By mere despair
               of wings.

(The Search, 159)

Two thousand years
I sojourned thus; at last Jeshurun’s king
Those famous tables did from Sinai bring;
These swelled my fears,
Guilts, trespasses, and all this inward awe,
For sin took strength, and vigour from the Law.

(Man’s Fall, and Recovery, 164)

O what a vanity is man!
How like the eye’s quick wink
His cottage fails; …

(‘Thou that know’st for whom I mourn’, 170)

Seek not the same steps with the crowd; stick thou
To thy sure trot; a constant, humble mind
Is both his own joy, and his Maker’s too;

(Rules and Lessons, 194)

Thy accounts thus made, spend in the grave one hour
Before thy time; be not a stranger there
Where thou may’st sleep whole ages; life’s poor flower
Lasts not a night sometimes. Bad spirits fear
This conversation; but the good man lies
Entombed many days before he dies.

(Rules and Lessons, 196)

But a twined wreath of grief and praise,

(The Wreath, 308)


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