Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
The Night
By Henry Vaughan (1621–1695)
        THROUGH that pure virgin shrine,
That sacred veil drawn o’er Thy glorious noon,
That men might look and live, as glow-worms shine,
        And face the moon:
      Wise Nicodemus saw such light        5
      As made him know his God by night.
        Most blest believer he!
Who in that land of darkness and blind eyes
Thy long-expected healing wings could see
        When Thou didst rise!        10
      And, what can never more be done,
      Did at midnight speak with the Sun!
        O who will tell me, where
He found Thee at that dead and silent hour?
What hallow’d solitary ground did bear        15
        So rare a flower;
      Within whose sacred leaves did lie
      The fulness of the Deity?
        No mercy-seat of gold,
No dead and dusty cherub, nor carv’d stone,        20
But His own living works did my Lord hold
        And lodge alone;
      Where trees and herbs did watch and peep
      And wonder, while the Jews did sleep.
        Dear Night! this world’s defeat;        25
The stop to busy fools; care’s check and curb;
The day of spirits; my soul’s calm retreat
        Which none disturb!
      Christ’s progress, and His prayer-time;
      The hours to which high Heaven doth chime.        30
        God’s silent, searching flight,
When my Lord’s head is fill’d with dew, and all
His locks are wet with the clear drops of night;
        His still, soft call:
      His knocking-time; the soul’s dumb watch,        35
      When spirits their fair kindred catch.
        Were all my loud, evil days
Calm and unhaunted as is thy dark tent,
Whose peace but by some angel’s wing or voice
        Is seldom rent;        40
      When I in heaven all the long year
      Would keep, and never wander here.
        But living where the sun
Doth all things wake, and where all mix and tire
Themselves and others, I consent and run        45
        To ev’ry mire;
      And by this word’s ill-guiding light,
      Err more than I can do by night.
        There is in God—some say—
A deep, but dazzling darkness; as men here        50
Say it is late and dusky, because they
        See not all clear.
      O for that Night! where I in Him
      Might live invisible and dim!

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