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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Retreate
By Henry Vaughan (1621–1695)
 
HAPPY those early dayes when I
Shined in my angell infancy!
Before I understood this place
Appointed for my second race,
Or taught my soul to fancy aught        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 severall sinne to every sence,
But felt through all this fleshly dresse
Bright shootes of everlastingnesse.        20
  Oh 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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