The Retreat

Henry Vaughan

Happy those early days, when I   
Shin'd in my Angel-infancy!   
Before I understood this place   
Appointed for my second race,   
Or taught my soul to fancy aught
But a white celestial thought:   
When yet I had not walk'd above   
A mile or two from my first Love,   
And looking back—at that short space—   
Could see a glimpse of His bright face:
When on some gilded cloud, or flow'r,   
My gazing soul would dwell an hour,   
And in those weaker glories spy   
Some shadows of eternity:   
Before I taught my tongue to wound
My Conscience with a sinful sound,   
Or had the black art to dispense   
A several sin to ev'ry sense,   
But felt through all this fleshly dress   
Bright shoots of everlastingness.
O how I long to travel back,   
And tread again that ancient track!   
That I might once more reach that plain   
Where first I left my glorious train;   
From whence th' enlightned spirit sees
That shady City of Palm-trees.   
But ah! my soul with too much stay   
Is drunk, and staggers in the way!   
Some men a forward motion love,   
But I by backward steps would move;
And when this dust falls to the urn,   
In that state I came, return.

Poems by This Author

Peace by Henry Vaughan
My soul, there is a country

Further Reading

Related Poems
by Marilyn Krysl
Poems About Childhood
"Out, Out—"
by Robert Frost
Don't Let Me Be Lonely [There was a time]
by Claudia Rankine
A Boy Juggling a Soccer Ball
by Christopher Merrill
A child said, What is the grass?
by Walt Whitman
Another Country
by Ryan Teitman
anyone lived in a pretty how town
by E. E. Cummings
by Robert Graves
Because I cannot remember my first kiss
by Roger Bonair-Agard
by Robert Frost
Block City
by Robert Louis Stevenson
by Andrew Hudgins
Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
deer & salt block
by Joshua Marie Wilkinson
Early Memory
by January Gill O'Neil
Fern Hill
by Dylan Thomas
Fifteen, Maybe Sixteen Things to Worry About
by Judith Viorst
For Some Slight I Can't Quite Recall
by Ross Gay
From the Lives of My Friends
by Michael Dickman
by Kimiko Hahn
Going Down Hill on a Bicycle
by Henry Charles Beeching
In the Waiting Room
by Elizabeth Bishop
by Lewis Carroll
Lullaby in Blue
by Betsy Sholl
My Aunts
by Meghan O'Rourke
My Bright Aluminum Tumblers
by Michael Ryan
My Childhood
by Matthew Zapruder
Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
by William Wordsworth
Pirate Story
by Robert Louis Stevenson
by Laurence Alma-Tadema
by Elizabeth Powell
Poem for You
by David Shapiro
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Solar system bedsheets
by Sarah Vap
The Children's Hour
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Gaffe
by C. K. Williams
The Lamb
by William Blake
The Portrait
by Stanley Kunitz
The Swing
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Tower
by W. B. Yeats
They Call This
by C. K. Williams
To My Best Friend's Big Sister
by Ross Gay
Untitled [The child thought it strange]
by Richard Meier
Untitled [You mustn't swim till you're six weeks old]
by Rudyard Kipling
We Are Seven
by William Wordsworth