Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
The Rainbow
By Henry Vaughan (1621–1695)
 
STILL young and fine! but what is still in view
We slight as old and soil’d, though fresh and new.
How bright wert thou, when Shem’s admiring eye
Thy burnished, flaming arch did first descry!
Then Terah, Nahor, Haran, Abram, Lot,        5
The youthful world’s grey fathers in one knot,
Did with intentive looks watch every hour
For thy new light, and trembled at each shower!
When thou dost shine, Darkness looks white and fair,
Forms turn to music, clouds to smiles and air;        10
Rain gently spends his honey-drops, and pours
Balm on the cleft earth, milk on grass and flowers.
Bright pledge of peace and sunshine! the sure tie
Of thy Lord’s hand, the object of His eye! 1
When I behold thee, though my light be dim,        15
Distant and low, I can in thine see Him,
Who looks upon thee from His glorious throne,
And minds the covenant ’twixt All and One.
O foul, deceitful men! my God doth keep
His promise still, but we break ours and sleep.        20
After the Fall the first sin was in blood,
And drunkenness quickly did succeed the flood;
But since Christ died—as if we did devise
To lose Him too, as well as Paradise—
These two grand sins we join and act together,        25
Though blood and drunkenness make but foul, foul weather.
Water—though both heaven’s windows and the deep
Full forty days o’er the drown’d world did weep—
Could not reform us; and blood—in despite—
Yea, God’s own blood, we tread upon and slight.        30
So those bad daughters, which God sav’d from fire,
While Sodom yet did smoke, lay with their sire.
 
Then peaceful, signal bow, but in a cloud
Still lodg’d, where all thy unseen arrows shroud;
I will on thee as on a comet look,        35
A comet, the sad world’s ill-boding book;
Thy light as luctual and stain’d with woes
I’ll judge, where penal flames sit mix’d and close;
For though some think thou shin’st but to restrain
Bold storms, and simply dost attend on rain;        40
Yet I know well, and so our sins require,
Thou dost but court cold rain, till rain turns fire.
 
Note 1. The object of His eye: Cf. Gen. ix. 16, “And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.” [back]
 
 
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