Sunday Night Journal, December 2, 2018
Sunday Night Journal, December 9, 2018

52 Poems, Week 49: Corruption (Henry Vaughan)

CORRUPTION

SURE, it was so. Man in those early days
   Was not all stone and earth:
He shin’d a little, and by those weak rays
   Had some glimpse of his birth.
He saw heaven o’er his head, and knew from whence 5
   He came, condemnèd, thither;
And, as first love draws strongest, so from hence
   His mind sure progress’d thither.
Things here were strange unto him; sweat and till;
   All was a thorn or weed;
Nor did those last, but—like himself—died still
   As soon as they did seed;
They seem’d to quarrel with him; for that act,
   They fell him, foil’d them all;
He drew the curse upon the world, and crack’d
   The whole frame with his fall.
This made him long for home, as loth to stay
   With murmurers and foes;
He sighed for Eden, and would often say
   ‘Ah! what bright days were those!’
Nor was heav’n cold unto him; for each day
   The valley or the mountain
Afforded visits, and still Paradise lay
   In some green shade or fountain.
Angels lay leiger here; each bush, and cell,
   Each oak, and highway knew them;
Walk but the fields, or sit down at some well,
   And he was sure to view them.
Almighty Love! where art Thou now? mad man
   Sits down and freezeth on;
He raves, and swears to stir nor fire, nor fan,
   But bids the thread be spun.
I see, Thy curtains are close-drawn; Thy bow
   Looks dim too in the cloud;
Sin triumphs still, and man is sunk below
   The centre, and his shroud.
All’s in deep sleep and night: thick darkness lies
   And hatcheth o’er Thy people—
But hark! what trumpet’s that? what angel cries
   ‘Arise! thrust in Thy sickle?’

*

I'm told that part of this poem is an Advent selection in Elizabeth Goudge's book A Diary of Prayer, which sounds like a book worth having. The poem strikes me as more Last Judgment than Advent, but it's nevertheless applicable as a picture of the situation in which our waiting takes place.

Comments

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I'd like to have that book, too. Amazon shows some used and some new copies, the new ones starting at $76! And there are two comments posted; love the second one: "It's very old school. Too negative, but there are a few uplifting poems. Some may appreciate the old doctrine messages".

Now that's a real gem. A contemporary version of Flannery O'Connor's mother complaining that her stories weren't uplifting.

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