by Henry Vaughan

I SAW Eternity the other night, 
Like a great ring of pure and endless light, 
              All calm, as it was bright ; 
And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years 
                      Driv'n by the spheres                                    5
Like a vast shadow mov'd ; in which the world 
                      And all her train were hurl'd. 
The doting lover in his quaintest strain 
                      Did there complain ; 
Near him, his lute, his fancy, and his flights,                         10
                      Wit's sour delights ; 
With gloves, and knots, the silly snares of pleasure, 
                      Yet his dear treasure,
All scatter'd lay, while he his eyes did pour 
                      Upon a flow'r.                                             15


The darksome statesman, hung with weights and woe, 
Like a thick midnight-fog, mov'd there so slow, 
              He did nor stay, nor go ; 
Condemning thoughts—like sad eclipses—scowl 
                      Upon his soul,                                                  20
And clouds of crying witnesses without 
              Pursued him with one shout. 
Yet digg'd the mole, and lest his ways be found, 
                      Work'd under ground, 
Where he did clutch his prey ; but one did see                     25
                      That policy : 
Churches and altars fed him ; perjuries 
                      Were gnats and flies ; 
It rain'd about him blood and tears, but he 
                      Drank them as free.                                    30


The fearful miser on a heap of rust 
Sate pining all his life there, did scarce trust 
              His own hands with the dust, 
Yet would not place one piece above, but lives 
                      In fear of thieves.                                        30
Thousands there were as frantic as himself, 
              And hugg'd each one his pelf ;* 
The downright epicure plac'd heav'n in sense, 
                      And scorn'd pretence ;
While others, slipp'd into a wide excess                               35
                      Said little less ; 
The weaker sort slight, trivial wares enslave, 
                      Who think them brave ; 
And poor, despisèd Truth sate counting by 
                      Their victory.                                              40


Yet some, who all this while did weep and sing, 
And sing, and weep, soar'd up into the ring ; 
              But most would use no wing. 
O fools—said I—thus to prefer dark night 
                      Before true light !                                        45
To live in grots and caves, and hate the day 
              Because it shows the way ; 
The way, which from this dead and dark abode 
                      Leads up to God ; 
A way where you might tread the sun, and be                     50
                      More bright than he ! 
But as I did their madness so discuss, 
                      One whisper'd thus, 
“This ring the Bridegroom did for none provide, 
                      But for His bride.”                                      55

JOHN, CAP. 2. VER. 16, 17.                 

    All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the
lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the
Father, but is of the world.
    And the world passeth away, and the lusts thereof ;
but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.        60

[* Money (AJ Note)]

Vaughan, Henry. The Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, Ed. London, Lawrence & Bullen Ltd., 1896. 150-152.

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