by Henry Vaughan

THOU that know'st for whom I mourn,
       And why these tears appear,
That keep'st account till he return
       Of all his dust left here ;
As easily Thou might'st prevent,
       As now produce, these tears,
And add unto that day he went
       A fair supply of years.
But 'twas my sin that forc'd Thy hand
       To cull this primrose out,
That by Thy early choice forewarn'd
       My soul might look about.
O what a vanity is man !
       How like the eye's quick wink
His cottage fails ; whose narrow span
       Begins even at the brink !
Nine months thy hands are fashioning us,
       And many years—alas !—
Ere we can lisp, or ought discuss
       Concerning Thee, must pass ;
Yet have I known Thy slightest things,
       A feather, or a shell,
A stick, or rod, which some chance brings
       The best of us excel ;
Yea, I have known these shreds outlast
       A fair-compacted frame,
And for one twenty we have past
       Almost outlive our name.
Thus hast Thou plac'd in man's outside
       Death to the common eye,
That heaven within him might abide,
       And close eternity ;
Hence youth, and folly, man's first shame,
       Are put unto the slaughter,
And serious thoughts begin to tame
       The wise man's madness, laughter.
Dull, wretched worms ! that would not keep
       Within our first fair bed,
But out of Paradise must creep
       For ev'ry foot to tread !
Yet had our pilgrimage been free,
       And smooth without a thorn,
Pleasures had foil'd eternity,
       And tares had chok'd the corn.
Thus by the cross salvation runs ;
       Affliction is a mother
Whose painful throes yield many sons,
       Each fairer than the other.
A silent tear can pierce Thy throne,
       When loud joys want a wing ;
And sweeter airs stream from a groan,
       Than any arted string.
Thus, Lord, I see my gain is great,
       My loss but little to it ;
Yet something more I must entreat,
       And only Thou canst do it.
O let me—like him—know my end !
       And be as glad to find it :
And whatsoe'er Thou shalt commend,
       Still let Thy servant mind it !
Then make my soul white as his own,
       My faith as pure and steady,
And deck me, Lord, with the same crown
       Thou hast crown'd him already !

Vaughan, Henry. The Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, Ed. London, Lawrence & Bullen Ltd., 1896. 54-56.

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