Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 35. The Retreate
Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
35. The Retreate
By Henry Vaughan  (1621–1695)
HAPPY those early dayes! when I
Shin’d in my Angell-infancy.
Before I understood this place
Appointed for my second race,
Or taught my soul to fancy ought        5
But a white, Celestiall thought;
When yet I had not walkt above
A mile, or two, from my first love,
And looking back (at that short space,)
Could see a glimpse of his bright-face;       10
When on some gilded Cloud, or flowre
My gazing soul would dwell an houre,
And in those weaker glories spy
Some shadows of eternity;
Before I taught my tongue to wound       15
My Conscience with a sinfull sound,
Or had the black art to dispence
A sev’rall sinne to ev’ry sence,
But felt through all this fleshly dresse
Bright shootes of everlastingnesse.       20
  O how I long to travell back
And tread again that ancient track!
That I might once more reach that plaine,
Where first I left my glorious traine,
From whence th’ Inlightned spirit sees       25
That shady City of Palme 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,       30
And when this dust falls to the urn
In that state I came return.



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