The Retreat

by Henry Vaughan


Happy those early days, when I
Shined in my angel-infancy !
Before I understood this place
Appointed for my second race,
Or taught my soul to fancy aught
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 several sin to every sense,
But felt through all this fleshly dress
Bright shoots of everlastingness.
   O 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 train ;
From whence the enlightened spirit sees
That shady City of Palm-trees.
But ah ! my soul with too much stay
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 | Classic Poems

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