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W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.

The Night

Henry Vaughan (1621–1695)


THROUGH that pure Virgin-shrine,

That sacred veil drawn o’er thy glorious noon,

That men might look and live, as glow-worms shine,

And face the moon,

Wise Nicodemus saw such light

As made him know his God by night.

Most blest believer he!

Who in that land of darkness and blind eyes,

Thy long expected healing wings could see,

When thou didst rise;

And, what can never more be done,

Did at midnight speak with the Sun!

Oh who will tell me, where

He found thee at that dead and silent hour?

What hallow’d solitary ground did bear

So rare a flower;

Within whose sacred leaves did lie

The fulness of the Deity?

No mercy-seat of gold,

No dead and dusty cherub, nor carved stone,

But his own living works, did my Lord hold

And lodge alone;

Where trees and herbs did watch and peep

And wonder, while the Jews did sleep.

Dear night! this world’s defeat;

The stop to busy fools; care’s check and curb;

The day of spirits; my soul’s calm retreat

Which none disturb!

Christ’s progress and his prayer-time;

The hours to which high Heaven doth chime.

God’s silent, searching flight;

When my Lord’s head is filled with dew, and all

His locks are wet with the clear drops of night;

His still, soft call;

His knocking time; the soul’s dumb watch,

When spirits their fair kindred catch.

Were all my loud, evil days

Calm and unhaunted as is thy dark tent,

Whose peace but by some Angel’s wing or voice

Is seldom rent;

Then I in Heaven all the long year

Would keep, and never wander here.

But living where the sun

Doth all things wake, and where all mix and tyre

Themselves and others, I consent and run

To ev’ry myre;

And by this world’s ill-guiding light,

Erre more than I can do by night.

There is in God, some say,

A deep, but dazzling darkness; as men here

Say it is late and dusky, because they

See not all clear.

Oh for that night! where I in Him

Might live invisible and dim!