Tomorrow, April 17, marks the birthday of poet Henry Vaughan…
We honor the occasion with seven of our favorite poems by Henry Vaughan …
Henry Vaughan (17 April 1621 – 23 April 1695) was a Welsh metaphysical poet, author, translator, and physician, who wrote in English. He is chiefly known for religious poetry contained in Silex Scintillans, published in 1650, with a second part in 1655. In 1646 his poems, with the Tenth Satyre of Juvenal Englished, were published, followed by a second volume in 1647. Meanwhile, he had been “converted” by reading the religious poet George Herbert and gave up “idle verse”. The prose Mount of Olives or Solitary Devotions (1652) show the depth of his religious convictions and the authenticity of his poetic genius. (via Wikipedia)
Henry Vaughan: Oxford Poetry Library
It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
PEACE ? and to all the world ? Sure One,
And He the Prince of Peace, hath none !
He travels to be born, and then
Is born to travel more again.
Poor Galilee ! thou canst not be
The place for His Nativity.
His restless mother’s call’d away,
And not deliver’d till she pay.
A tax ? ’tis so still ! we can see
The Church thrive in her misery,
And, like her Head at Beth’lem, rise,
When she, oppress’d with troubles, lies.
Rise ?—should all fall, we cannot be
In more extremities than He.
Great Type of passions ! Come what will,
Thy grief exceeds all copies still.
Thou cam’st from Heaven to Earth, that we
Might go from Earth to Heav’n with Thee :
And though Thou found’st no welcome here,
Thou didst provide us mansions there.
A stable was Thy Court, and when
Men turn’d to beasts, beasts would be men :
They were Thy courtiers ; others none ;
And their poor manger was Thy throne.
No swaddling silks Thy limbs did fold,
Though Thou couldst turn Thy rays to gold.
No rockers waited on Thy birth,
No cradles stirr’d, nor songs of mirth ;
But her chaste lap and sacred breast,
Which lodg’d Thee first, did give Thee rest.
But stay : what light is that doth stream
And drop here in a gilded beam ?
It is Thy star runs page, and brings
Thy tributary Eastern kings.
Lord ! grant some light to us, that we
May with them find the way to Thee !
Behold what mists eclipse the day !
How dark it is ! Shed down one ray,
To guide us out of this sad night,
And say once more, “Let there be light.”