Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. III. Sorrow and Consolation
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation.  1904.
VI. Consolation
“Happy are the dead”
Henry Vaughan (1621–1695)
I WALKED the other day, to spend my hour,
      Into a field,
Where I sometimes had seen the soil to yield
      A gallant flower:
But winter now had ruffled all the bower        5
      And curious store
    I knew there heretofore.
Yet I, whose search loved not to peep and peer
      In the face of things,
Thought with myself, there might be other springs        10
      Beside this here,
Which, like cold friends, sees us but once a year;
      And so the flower
    Might have some other bower.
Then taking up what I could nearest spy,        15
      I digged about
That place where I had seen him to grow out;
      And by and by
I saw the warm recluse alone to lie,
      Where fresh and green        20
    He lived of us unseen.
Many a question intricate and rare
      Did I there strow;
But all I could extort was, that he now
      Did there repair        25
Such losses as befell him in this air,
      And would erelong
    Come forth most fair and young.
This past, I threw the clothes quite o’er his head;
      And, stung with fear        30
Of my own frailty, dropped down many a tear
      Upon his bed;
Then, sighing, whispered, Happy are the dead!
      What peace doth now
    Rock him asleep below!        35
And yet, how few believe such doctrine springs
      From a poor root
Which all the winter sleeps here under foot,
      And hath no wings
To raise it to the truth and light of things,        40
      But is still trod
    By every wandering clod!
O thou whose spirit did at first inflame
      And warm the dead!
And by a sacred incubation fed        45
      With life this frame,
Which once had neither being, form, nor name!
      Grant I may so
    Thy steps track here below,
That in these masks and shadows I may see        50
      Thy sacred way;
And by those hid ascents climb to that day
      Which breaks from thee,
Who art in all things, though invisibly:
      Show me thy peace,        55
    Thy mercy, love, and ease.
And from this care, where dreams and sorrows reign,
      Lead me above,
Where light, joy, leisure, and true comforts move
      Without all pain:        60
There, hid in thee, show me his life again
      At whose dumb urn
    Thus all the year I mourn.

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