JOHN, CAP. 3. VER. 2.

by Henry Vaughan

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 !

                O 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 carv'd 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 ; cares 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 fill'd 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 tire
    Themselves and others, I consent and run
                    To ev'ry mire ;
             And by this world's ill-guiding light,
             Err 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.
             O for that Night !  where I in Him
             Might live invisible and dim !

* St. Mark, cap. I, ver. 35. St. Luke, cap. 21, ver. 37.

Vaughan, Henry. The Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, Ed. London, Lawrence & Bullen Ltd., 1896. 251-253.

Backto Works of Henry Vaughan

Site copyright ©1996-2000 Anniina Jokinen. All Rights Reserved.
Created by Anniina Jokinen on October 10, 2000.

Background by the kind permission of Gini Schmitz.