Verse > Anthologies > W. Garrett Horder, ed. > The Poets’ Bible: New Testament
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W. Garrett Horder, comp.  The Poets’ Bible: New Testament.  1895.
 
The Night
Henry Vaughan (1621–1695)
 
JOHN III. 2.

THROUGH that pure Virgin-shrine,
  That sacred veil drawn o’er thy glorious noon,
That men might look and live, as glow-worms shine,
  And face the moon,
Wise Nicodemus saw such light        5
As made him know his God by night.
 
Most blest believer he!
  Who in that land of darkness and blind eyes,
Thy long expected healing wings could see,
  When thou didst rise;        10
And, what can never more be done,
Did at midnight speak with the Sun!
 
Oh who will tell me, where
  He found thee at that dead and silent hour?
What hallow’d solitary ground did bear        15
  So rare a flower;
Within whose sacred leaves did lie
The fulness of the Deity?
 
No mercy-seat of gold,
  No dead and dusty cherub, nor carved stone,        20
But his own living works, did my Lord hold
  And lodge alone;
Where trees and herbs did watch and peep
And wonder, while the Jews did sleep.
 
Dear night! this world’s defeat;        25
  The stop to busy fools; care’s check and curb;
The day of spirits; my soul’s calm retreat
  Which none disturb!
Christ’s progress and his prayer-time; 1
The hours to which high Heaven doth chime.        30
 
God’s silent, searching flight;
  When my Lord’s head is filled with dew, and all
His locks are wet with the clear drops of night;
  His still, soft call;
His knocking time; the soul’s dumb watch,        35
When spirits their fair kindred catch.
 
Were all my loud, evil days
  Calm and unhaunted as is thy dark tent,
Whose peace but by some Angel’s wing or voice
  Is seldom rent;        40
Then I in Heaven all the long year
Would keep, and never wander here.
 
But living where the sun
  Doth all things wake, and where all mix and tyre
Themselves and others, I consent and run        45
  To ev’ry myre;
And by this world’s ill-guiding light,
Erre more than I can do by night.
 
There is in God, some say,
  A deep, but dazzling darkness; as men here        50
Say it is late and dusky, because they
  See not all clear.
Oh for that night! where I in Him
Might live invisible and dim!
 
Note 1. Mark i. 35. St. Luke xxi. 37. [back]
 
 
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