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

52 Poems, Week 49: Corruption (Henry Vaughan)


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.


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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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