Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By Henry Vaughan (1622–1695)


WHEN 1 first thy eyes unveil, give thy soul leave
To do the like; our bodies but fore-run
The spirit’s duty; true hearts spread and heave
Unto their God as flowers do to the sun.
    Give Him thy first thoughts then, so shalt thou keep        5
    Him company all day, and in Him sleep.
Walk with thy fellow-creatures: note the hush
And whispers amongst them. There’s not a spring
Or leaf but hath his morning hymn. Each bush
And oak doth know I AM. Canst thou not sing?        10
    O leave thy cares and follies! go this way;
    And thou art sure to prosper all the day.
Note 1. Henry Vaughan, called the Silurist, as an inhabitant of South Wales, owed to Herbert both his conversion and much of his inspiration as a poet. What the debt exactly was the present writer has endeavoured to estimate in a preface to the edition of Vaughan in the “Muses’ Library” (Laurence & Bullen). But Vaughan’s mysticism, the predominating quality of his best verse, gives him independent rank. At his best he can soar far beyond Herbert’s range, but he lacks Herbert’s fine sense of style, and rarely maintains a high level throughout a long poem. The pieces here given present him at his best and most equable. [back]