poem index

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. 

This poem is in the public domain.

Henry Vaughan

by this poet

poem
My soul, there is a country
     Far beyond the stars,
Where stands a wingéd sentry
     All skilful in the wars;

There above the noise and danger,
     Sweet Peace sits crown'd with smiles,
And One born in a manger
     Commands the beauteous files.

He is thy gracious Friend,
     And—O my Soul awake!—
Did in