Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
The Retreat
By Henry Vaughan (1621–1695)
 
HAPPY 1 those early days, when I
Shin’d in my angel-infancy!
Before I understood this place
Appointed for my second race,
Or taught my soul to fancy ought        5
But a white, celestial thought;
When yet I had not walk’d 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 flow’r,
My gazing soul would dwell an hour,
And in those weaker glories spy
Some shadows of eternity;
Before I taught my tongue to wound        15
My conscience with a sinful sound,
Or had the black art to dispense
A sev’ral sin to every sense,
But felt through all this fleshly dress
Bright shoots of everlastingness.        20
  O how I long to travel back,
And tread again that ancient track!
That I might once more reach that plain,
Where first I left my glorious train;
From whence th’ enlighten’d spirit sees        25
That shady City of palm-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.
 
Note 1. It was this poem which inspired Wordsworth to write his famous Ode on the Intimations of Immortality. In the following poem No. 117, Corruption, a similar idea is expressed. [back]
 
 
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