Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 38. The World
Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
38. The World
By Henry Vaughan  (1621–1695)
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 queintest strain
    Did their Complain,
Neer him, his Lute, his fancy, and his flights,       10
    Wits sour delights,
With gloves, and knots the silly snares of pleasure
  Yet his dear Treasure
All scatter’d lay, while he his eys did pour
    Upon a flowr.       15
The darksome States-man 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 Ecclipses) scowl
    Upon his soul,       20
And Clouds of crying witnesses without
  Pursued him with one shout.
Yet dig’d the Mole, and lest his ways be found
    Workt under ground,
Where he did Clutch his prey, but one did see       25
    That policie,
Churches and altars fed him, Perjuries
    Were gnats and flies,
It rain’d about him bloud and tears, but he
    Drank them as free.       30
The fearfull 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 peece above, but lives
    In feare of theeves.       35
Thousands there were as frantick as himself
  And hug’d each one his pelf,
The down-right Epicure plac’d heav’n in sense
    And scornd pretence
While others slipt into a wide Excesse       40
    Said little lesse;
The weaker sort slight, triviall wares Inslave
    Who think them brave,
And poor, despised truth sate Counting by
    Their victory.       45
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,       50
To live in grots, and caves, and hate the day
  Because it shews 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       55
    More bright than he.
But as I did their madnes so discusse
    One whisper’d thus,
This Ring the Bride-groome did for none provide
    But for his bride.       60



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