From “The Lamp,” Silex Scintillans (1650)
Tis dead night round about; Horror doth creep
And move on with the shades; stars nod and sleep,
And through the dark air spin a fiery thread,
Such as doth gild the lazy glow-worm’s bed.
Yet burn’st thou here, a full day; while I spend
My rest in cares, and to the dark world lend
These flames, as thou dost thine to me; I watch
That hour, which must thy life and mine dispatch;
But still thou dost outgo me, I can see
Met in thy flames all acts of piety;
Thy light is charity; thy heat is zeal;
And thy aspiring, active fires reveal
Devotion still on wing; then, thou dost weep
Still as thou burn’st, and the warm droppings creep
To measure out thy length, as if thou’dst know
What stock, and how much time were left thee now
Nor dost thou spend one tear in vain, for still
As thou dissolv’st to them, and they distil,
They’re stor’d up in the socket, where they lie,
When all is spent, thy last and sure supply;
And such is true repentance; ev’ry breath
We spend in sighs is treasure after death.
Only one point escapes thee; that thy oil
Is still out with thy flame, and so both fail.
But whensoe’er I’m out, both shall be in.
And where thou mad’st an end, there I’ll begin.
Henry Vaughan (1621—1695) was a Welsh Anglican metaphysical poet, deeply influenced by George Herbert. He experienced a dramatic conversion as a student, and wrote several volumes of poems on Biblical and theological themes.