The Water-fall

By Henry Vaughan 1621–1695 Henry Vaughan
With what deep murmurs through time’s silent stealth
Doth thy transparent, cool, and wat’ry wealth
       Here flowing fall,
       And chide, and call,
As if his liquid, loose retinue stay’d
Ling’ring, and were of this steep place afraid;
       The common pass
       Where, clear as glass,
       All must descend
       Not to an end,
But quicken’d by this deep and rocky grave,
Rise to a longer course more bright and brave.

       Dear stream! dear bank, where often I
       Have sate and pleas’d my pensive eye,
       Why, since each drop of thy quick store
       Runs thither whence it flow’d before,
       Should poor souls fear a shade or night,
       Who came, sure, from a sea of light?
       Or since those drops are all sent back
       So sure to thee, that none doth lack,
       Why should frail flesh doubt any more
       That what God takes, he’ll not restore?

       O useful element and clear!
       My sacred wash and cleanser here,
       My first consigner unto those
       Fountains of life where the Lamb goes!
       What sublime truths and wholesome themes
       Lodge in thy mystical deep streams!
       Such as dull man can never find
       Unless that Spirit lead his mind
       Which first upon thy face did move,
       And hatch’d all with his quick’ning love.
       As this loud brook’s incessant fall
       In streaming rings restagnates all,
       Which reach by course the bank, and then
       Are no more seen, just so pass men.
       O my invisible estate,
       My glorious liberty, still late!
       Thou art the channel my soul seeks,
       Not this with cataracts and creeks.

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Poet Henry Vaughan 1621–1695

POET’S REGION Wales

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Living, Religion, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Time & Brevity, Nature, Faith & Doubt, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Christianity, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Metaphor, Couplet

Biography

Henry Vaughan, the major Welsh poet of the Commonwealth period, has been among the writers benefiting most from the twentieth-century revival of interest in the poetry of John Donne and his followers. Vaughan's early poems, notably those published in the Poems of 1646 and Olor Iscanus of 1651, place him among the "Sons of Ben," in the company of other imitators of Ben Jonson, such as the Cavalier poets Sir William Davenant and

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Religion, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Time & Brevity, Nature, Faith & Doubt, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Christianity, God & the Divine

POET’S REGION Wales

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Poetic Terms Metaphor, Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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