Henry Vaughan

(1621 - 23 April 1695 / Brecknockshire, Wales)

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.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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