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Henry Vaughan : The Retreat

Happy those early days! when I
Shined in my angel-infancy,
Before I understood this place
Appointed for my second race1,
Or taught my soul to fancy ought
But a white, celestial thought;
When yet I had not walked above
A mile or two from my first love,
And looking back—at that short space—
Could see a glimpse of His bright face;
When on some gilded cloud, or flower,
My gazing soul would dwell an hour,
And in those weaker glories spy
Some shadows of eternity;
Before I taught my tongue to wound
My conscience with a sinful sound,
Or had the black art to dispense
A several2 sin to every sense,
But felt through all this fleshy dress
Bright shoots of everlastingness.
	Oh 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 train3;
From whence the enlightened spirit sees
That shady city of palm trees4.
But ah! my soul with too much stay5
Is drunk, and staggers in the way.
Some men a forward motion love,
But I by backward steps would move
And when this dust falls to the urn,
In that state I came, return.

Henry Vaughan (1622-1695)	1650

 
FOOTNOTES
1 here means life, in reference to belief of some Christians that the soul had a heavenly existence before life in this world; 2 separate; 3 i.e. that way of existence; 4 heaven; 5 delay
 

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