Monday, June 28, 2010

Henry Vaughan

Henry Vaughan (1622?–1695) was a Welsh physician and poet. He is one of the 17th century metaphysical poets — a group which includes John Donne and George Herbert. There was no metaphysical school, but a similar approach beginning with Donne, growing in Herbert, and developing further in Vaughan. What their poems have in common is a colloquial manner and a characteristic reflectiveness about their personal relationships with God.

Prior to 1650 his poetry was primarily secular, however, after a serious illness, Henry Vaughan experienced a spiritual awakening. He attributed this awakening to Herbert’s poetry, and his style is significantly influenced by Herbert. His best-known book, Silex Scintillans (which means Sparkling Flint) was published in 1650, with an expanded edition in 1655. Vaughan tried to suppress his earlier poetry, and is today primarily known for his poems of faith.


My Soul, there is a country
------Afar beyond the stars,
Where stands a winged sentry
------All skillful in the wars:
There, above 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 pure love descend,
------To die here for thy sake.
If thou canst get but thither,
------There grows the flow'r of peace,
The rose that cannot wither,
------Thy fortress, and thy ease.
Leave then thy foolish ranges,
------For none can thee secure,
But One, who never changes,
------Thy God, thy life, thy cure.

This is the first Kingdom Poets post about Henry Vaughan: second post, third post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: