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The mysticism of George Herbert and Henry Vaughan Richardson, Nenagh Gweneth Mary 1952

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THE MYSTICISM OF GEORGE HERBERT AND HENRI VAUGHAN by Nenagh G. M. Richardson A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in the Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the standard required from candidates for the degree of MASTER OF ARTS Members of the Department of THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA May, 1952. iiB5 TRA CT Mysticism is simply religious experience in its highest manifestations. In Christian mysticism, love is the distinguishing factor; its focal point is the Incarnation. The mystic worships God both In His Transcendence and In His Immanence, his emphasis usually being on one or other of these aspects of His nature. In the seventeenth century, two main mystical traditions existed. One was the orthodox Catholic tradition; the other was more unorthodox in character, stemming from the. philosophy of Hermes Trismegistes. The mystic way consists of the five-fold path beginning in Awakening, followed by Purgation, Illumination, the Dark Night of the Soul, and climaxed by Union. The mystic l i f e i t s e l f is not vague or escapist: i t is a. l i f e deified in order that i t may be dedicated. Contemplation and activity go hand in hand. Mystical and poetical experience can be differentiated by the direction which each experience takes: the poet returns from his experience with his poem, whereas the mystic pushes on to the fuller vision of God. Turning specifically to George Herbert, I believe he was never fully awakened in the mystical sense; hence, his subsequent experience cannot be considered truly mystical. Nevertheless, there are points of reference and similarities between Herbert and the mystics. His Purgation, however, lacked the fullness of the. mystic's experience, for i t lacked the most significant attribute of the purgative state, the stimulation of the w i l l . A sense of Illumination, moreover, is never sustained in Herbert. Rarely does he express joy at God's presence. Indeed, he was most like ^ the mystic in his expression of despair. Thus the peace he came to exemplify in his l i f e at Bernerton is truly remarkable in the light of the suffering revealed in his poems. The sense of harmony and peace he ultimately achieved came not through inner peace but through triumph over constant turmoil and despair. Henry Vaughan, on the other hand, experienced, I believe, a true mystic Awakening, accepting the obligations implicit in i t , and undergoing, as a consequence, a certain degree of Purgation. His deepest suffering was closely linked with the persecution of the church. His Illumination is best understood through his approach to nature. His treatment of light imagery in nature, however, tends to be misleading in an assessment of his mysticism. I believe that the poems which deal most successfully with light are really philosophical rather than mystical, and that his Illumination, or vision, was essentially that of the poet and not that of the mystic. The vision he captured i s , nevertheless, one of the fullest and loveliest to be found in our English poetry„ Both Herbert- and Vaughan sought to praise their Maker through the medium of their art. They were deeply spiritual poets though neither can be considered a mystic in the f u l l sense of the word. Each was essentially mystical in his aspirations, nevertheless and In their individual accomplishments each tells us something of the final and f u l l accomplishment of the mystic: Vaughan through his illuminated vision of the world, Herbert through his exemplary l i f e of holiness <» TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter I Mysticism: I Meaning I I T r a d i t i o n s I I I Mystic Way Page Chapter I I P a r a l l e l s and Contrasts between M y s t i c a l and P o e t i c a l Experience Page 29 Chapter I I I George Herbert Chapter I T Henry Vaughan Page 39 Page 7# Chapter V Contrasts and S i m i l a r i t i e s i n the l i v e s of Herbert and Vaughan; a Summary of the m y s t i c a l element i n t h e i r l i v e s . Page 121 B i b l i o g r a p h y Page 123 G H A P T I R I I The r e c o r d of man's r e l i g i o u s consciousness r e v e a l s a growing awareness of and b e l i e f i n a sphere of existence other than the changing cosmos i n t o which he i s born. He g r a d u a l l y comes to pe r c e i v e , however dimly, "a q u a l i t y of l i f e which l i e s beyond the mere f a c t of l i f e . " 1 The concept o f harmony which he sees i n the world o f Time emerges as a c e r t i t u d e of a higher harmony i n the measured order of the Timeless; he apprehends, however i m p e r f e c t l y , God, Absolute Being, c o - e x i s t e n t with, yet transcendent t o , h i s own world of Becoming. His r e l i g i o u s i n -s i g h t gains i n depth and i n s i g n i f i c a n c e as he recognizes w i t h i n himself, not only h i s spontaneous a f f i n i t y w i t h , but a l s o h i s mysterious c a p a c i t y f o r the Godhead. The r e s u l t i n g sense of h i s own incompleteness coupled with the challenge of h i s D i v i n e p o t e n t i a l i t y produces w i t h i n him an i n i t i a l unrest which sub-sequently g i v e s r i s e to an a c t i v e hunger f o r R e a l i t y , a d e s i r e f o r p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the Supernatural l i f e o f God. This yearning i s expressed In p r a y e r , the Godward movement of man's so u l ; i t f i n d s i t s response through grace, the manward movement of God's l o v e . This twofold r e l i g i o u s a c t i v i t y f i n d s i t s f u l l e s t expression i n mysticism, which i s none other than the most h i g h l y s p e c i a l i z e d form we know of man's attempt to b r i n g the e n t i r e resources of h i s heart, w i l l a n d ' i n t e l l e c t i n t o alignment with 1. A.N. Whitehead, R e l i g i o n i n the Making, Cambridge, U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1926, p.80. 2 Evelyn U n d e r h i l l , The Golden Sequence, London, Methuen, 1932, p.47. God. It is not an opinion, neigher is i t a philosophy; fundamen-tal l y i t is an experience: an organic life-process by which man establishes his conscious relation with the Absolute.^" In her book on mysticism, Miss Underhill says: ...Those who use the term "Mysticism" are bound in self-defence to explain what they mean by i t . Broadly speaking, I understand, i t to be the expression of the innate tendency of the human spirit towards complete harmony with the transcendental order; whatever be the theological formula under which that order i s understood. This tendency, in great mystics, gradually captures the whole f i e l d of consciousness; i t dominates their l i f e and, in the experience called "mystic union", attains i t s end. Whether that end be called the God of Christianity, the World Soul of Pantheism, the Absolute of Philosophy, the desire to attain i t and the movement towards i t - so long as this i s a genuine l i f e process and not an intellectual speculation- is the proper subject of mysticism. 2 In spite of recent research in mystical studies, the word "mysticism" i s widely misunderstood and i s frequently mis-, 3 used. One of the most abused words in the English language, i t has been used in different and often mutually exclusive senses by religion, poetry and philosophy: has been claimed as an excuse for every kind of occultism, for dilute transcendentalism, vapid symbolism, religious or aesthetic sentimentality, and bad metaphysics. On the other hand, i t has been freely employed as a term of contempt by those who have criticized these things. It is much to be hoped that i t may be restored sooner or later to i t s old meaning, as the science or art of the spiritual l i f e . 4 1 E, Underhill, Mysticism, London, Methuen, 1945, p.81. 2 Ibid., pp. xiv-xv. 3 cf Webster's Dictionary: Any type of theory asserting the possibility of attaining knowledge or power through faith or spiritual insight. Hence, vague speculation. (Italics mine.) 4E Underhill, op. c i t . . p.xiv. 3. I n i t i a l misunderstanding arises in some cases from a too l i t e r a l association of the word 'mysticism' with its.Greek derivation, the word for mysteries, pertaining to the Orphic and Dionysiac mystery cults of pagan Greece. As a consequence, mysticism is understood as synonymous with things obscure, mysterious and esoteric. Visions, trances, apparitions and similar phenomena are regarded as the criteria of mystical experience. In point of fact, the opposite i s true. The greatest mystics have discouraged such manifestations and have placed l i t t l e or no emphasis upon them. They have recognized them as belonging to the psychical rather than to the spiritual level of reality. According to St. John of the Cross, the higher a mystic attains, the fewer of these manifestations does he meet. For the vision of God i s the cul-minating point, not of any single faculty, but of man's whole nature. This vision is the reward of the few. A l l men possess in germ the capacity for this heightened spiritual perception but few possess i t in the superlative degree to which i t i s found in the great contemplatives. The mystic i s not common: he is rarer than the great poet, musician, or scientist. "Religious truth," claims Professor Whitehead, "must be developed from knowledge when our ordinary senses and i n t e l l -ectual operations are at their highest pitch of discipline.""'" It i s to the mystic, then, the spiritual genius, to whom we must go in order to learn this truth... In him we find this stringent control and cultivation of the human faculties. These alone, 1 Whitehead, Religion, p.123. 4. however, do not b r i n g him to the v i s i o n of the Absolute. The gap between creat u r e and Creator cannot be bridged even by a supreme e f f o r t of the i n t e l l e c t ; only through what the author of The Cloud of Unknowing c a l l s "the sharp dart o f lon g i n g l o v e " does the mystic achieve h i s g o a l . "Mysticism," d e c l a r e s Miss U n d e r h i l l , " i s e s s e n t i a l l y a movement of the heart, seeking to transcend the l i m i t a t i o n s of the i n d i v i d u a l standpoint and to surrender i t s e l f to u l t i m a t e R e a l i t y ; f o r no personal g a i n , to s a t i s f y no transc e n d e n t a l c u r i o s i t y , to obt a i n no other-worldly joys, but p u r e l y from an i n s t i n c t o f l o v e . " 1 He may not be known by reason, He may not be gotten by thought, nor con d i t i o n e d by understanding; but He may be loved and chosen with the t r u e l o v e l y w i l l of thi n e h e a r t . . . . 2 "0 l e t me l o v e , or not l i v e . " i s the rapturous cry of Dame Gertrude More. ...Out of t h i s t r u e l o v e between a so u l and thee, there a r i s e t h such a knowledge i n the s o u l that i t l o a t h e t h a l l that i s an impediment to her f u r t h e r proceeding i n the Love of thee....Nothing can S a t i a t e a reasonable s o u l , but only thou: and having o f thee, who a r t indeed a l l , nothing could be s a i d to be wanting of her....Blessed are the cleane of hart f o r they s h a l l see God. 0 s i g h t t o be wished, d e s i r e d , and longed f o r ; because once to have seen thee i s to have l e a r n t a l l t h i n g s . Nothing can b r i n g us to t h i s s i g h t but l o v e . But what love must i t be? not a s e n s i b l e love only, a c h i l d i s h l o v e , a l o v e which seeketh i t s e l f more than the beloved. No, no, but i t must be an ardent l o v e , a pure l o v e , a couradgious l o v e , a love of c h a r i t y , an humble lo v e , and a constant love, not worn out with labours, not daunted with any d i f f i c u l t i e s . . . . F o r that soul t h a t hath set her whole love and d e s i r e on thee, can never f i n d any true s a t i s f a c t i o n , but only i n thee. 3 1 U n d e r h i l l , Mysticism, p.71. 2 From the E p i s t l e of Descretion. quoted by Miss U n d e r h i l l , I n t r o d u c t i o n to The Cloud of Unknowing. London, John M. Watkins, 1922, pp.14-15 3 Gertrude More, quoted by U n d e r h i l l , Mysticism, pp.88-89. 5. Love, then, i s the d i s t i n g u i s h i n g mark of mysticism. I t i s , i n the words of Miss U n d e r h i l l , "the business and method of mysticism" and as such i s to be di s t i n g u i s h e d from "the s u p e r f i c i a l a f f e c t i o n or emotion often d i g n i f i e d by t h i s name. Mystic Love i s a t o t a l d edication of the w i l l ; the deep-seated de s i r e and tendency of the soul towards i t s source. I t i s a condition of humble access, a life-movement of the s o u l . , . . " "He that f i n d e t h h i s l i f e s h a l l l ose i t , and he that l o s e t h h i s l i f e f o r my sake s h a l l f i n d i t . " This paradox i s made cl e a r to us by the unconditional s e l f - g i v i n g of the mystic. "Only 2 with the a n n i h i l a t i o n of selfhood comes the f u l f i l l m e n t of l o v e . " Single-minded, seeking no reward, the mystic obtains s a t i s f a c t i o n simply because he does not seek i t . He loves because he must. " I am not come to t h i s meaning," w r i t e s Jacob Boehme, "or to t h i s work and knowledge through my own reason or through my own w i l l and purpose; neither have I sought t h i s knowledge, nor so much as to know anything concerning i t . I sought only f o r the 3 heart of God, t h e r e i n to hide myself." To the question "Why should God be loved?" S t . Bernard 4 of Clairvaux gives the r e p l y : "Because he f i r s t loved us." "God so loved the world that he gave His only Begotten Son...." Thus, to the C h r i s t i a n mystic, the Incarnation i s the f o c a l point of a l l experience. That "the Word was made f l e s h , and dwelt among 1 I b i d . . p.85. 2 I b i d . . p.93. 3 Loc. c i t . 4 Saint Bernard, On the Love Of God, t r a n s l a t e d by a Rel i g i o u s of C.S.M.V., London, A.R. Mowbray, 1950, p.14; c f . also I John 19: "We love him, because he f i r s t loved us". 6 us" i s simply God's d i s c l o s u r e of Himself under the l i m i t a t i o n s of time and space, the " l o v i n g r e v e l a t i o n of the I n f i n i t e i n terms of the f i n i t e . " The Incarnate C h r i s t i s the supreme act of God's l o v e : the w i l l i n g and l o v i n g descent of God i n t o man. He i s , i n the words of N i c o l a s of Cusa, "the word of God human-i f i e d . " This alone He could never be: God humanified, yes, but i n s e p a r a b l y , by His very nature, "man d e i f i e d . " Thus, not only i s He God; He i s a l s o the Way to God. The l i f e of C h r i s t i s the supreme symbol of the mystic quest f o r the Absolute. The dram-a t i z a t i o n i n time and space of the I n c a r n a t i o n e s t a b l i s h e s f o r the mystic the perpetual process by which the i n d i v i d u a l s o u l may and must ascend to God. The Incarnate Son i s thus a double l i n k : "the means of God's s e l f consciousness, the means of man's consciousness of God."^ This twofold s i g n i f i c a n c e of the Divine Logos was revealed i n a v i s i o n to St. Catherine of Sienna by the v o i c e of God: I a lso wish thee to look at the Bridge of My only-begotten Son, and see the greatness t h e r e o f , f o r i t reaches from Heaven to earth; that i s , that the earth of your humanity i s j o i n e d to the greatness o f t h e D e i t y thereby. I say, then, t h a t t h i s Bridge reaches from Heaven to earth, and c o n s t i t u t e s the union which I have made with man... So the height o f the D i v i n i t y , humbled to the e a r t h , and j o i n e d with your humanity, made the Bridge and reformed the road. Why was t h i s done? In order that man might come to h i s t r u e happiness with the angels. And observe that i t i s not enough, i n order that you should have l i f e , that My Son should have made you t h i s Bridge, unless you walk thereon. 4 1 Evelyn U n d e r h i l l , Man and'the Supernatural. London, Methuen and Company, 1927, p.117. 2 Quoted by U n d e r h i l l i n Mysticism, p.118. 3 I b i d . , p.119-4 U n d e r h i l l , l o c . c i t . 7 . Christ, then, i s the link between the humanity of man and the Divinity of God. And because the l i f e of the mystic is an Imitation of Christ, i t provides a further link between the world of sense and the realm of s p i r i t . No image expresses so perfectly the significance of both the Incarnation and the Mystic Way as does this of the Bridge. It catches in essence the journey of the mystic; i t images also the metaphysical concepts upon which this journey i s based. For, to the mystic, there persists a fundamental distinction, though not a separation, between the Natural and the Supernatural, between the world of Becoming and that of Pure Being, the sublime paradox of which i s resolved by his own experience in his apprehension of the One in the Many, the Many in the One. God exists, the mystic maintains, on two levels of Reality, both in the world and beyond the world: God Immanent, He reveals Himself through the time series, in the changing and the successive; God Transcendent, He Is, Absolute, Unchanging and Abiding. Thus the spiritual consciousness of the mystic develops along these two levels of reality: on the one hand, in his i n -tensified apprehension of and participation in the world, the manifestation of God's Immanence, of which, by his very nature, he is an integral part; on the other, in his approach, at once humble and adoring, to the Transcendent Order of God's Being. To the mystic, l i f e in this world possesses significance by virtue of i t s correspondence with that other world, the timeless Reality of God. Thus the religious character latent in man can come to maturity only by means of a twofold endeavour; the achievement of each being necessary to bring about the fruition of the other. Where this necessary balance is lacking, a dis-tortion results: the cultus that places an undue emphasis on God's Immanence tends toward a form of Pantheism; that which stresses the Transcendence of God to the exclusion of His Immanence tends toward extreme Absolutism, a form of religion leaving l i t t l e or no room for the quality of Divine Love. Love is the measure of a l l things. It i s the means by which the mystic bridges the gap between himself, the creature, and God, his Creator. His l i f e begins and ends in love. He does not seek to know God in order that he may love Him; rather he loves Him in order that he may come to know Him. His knowledge of God comes through his love of God, and, by nature of i t s revelation, leads to a s t i l l greater love of God. II During the seventeenth century, two main currents of mysticism, distinctly contrasting by nature, were to be found throughout Europe.1 One was orthodox in character, rising within the Catholic Church, in close touch with, and, in general, perpetuating the great traditions of Christian mysticism. The other was highly unorthodox, both in content and in expression. It stemmed, i n the main, from the philosophy of Hermes Tris-magistus, and was expressed by means of a d i f f i c u l t and obscure symbolism, adapted from the language of alchemy, and based on the idea of regeneration. Its greatest influence was f e l t out-side the Catholic Church, particularly in Germany and in England. Vaughan and Traherne illustrate the influence of each of these currents of mysticism; Donne, Herbert and Crashaw f a l l in varying degrees within the Catholic tradition., 1 Underhill, Mysticism, Appendix, pp.453-473. 9 This tradition reached i t s fullest and highest ex-pression in the medieval period. From the early Middle Ages, in lives such as those of Bernard of Clairvaux and the Victorines, to the later period, the Golden Age of mysticism, the period of Bonaventura and Acquinas, the names of the great mystics stand out, not singly, but in great clusters. Through their lives and in their works, mystical tradition took form. At the beginning of the medieval period, two distinctive streams of spiritual culture, the Benedictine and the Neoplatonic, co-existed. In varying degrees, these served to mould and to influence the Christian mystical traditions of the succeeding centuries. The Benedictine rule was moderate and practical. Originally, i t arose among a group of contemplatives of the Egyptian desert and reached the Western world in two ways: through the writings of St. Augustine and through the fourth century Dialogues of John Cassian. These Dialogues, exemplifying order and sobriety, were adapted by St. Benedict as part of the spiritual reading for the members of his order. Through him, and later St. Gregory, they influenced succeeding generations of contemplatives. In contrast with the moderation of the Benedictine tradition, Neoplatonic mysticism was at once more intense and more highly personal. Though the term Neoplatonic derives from that of the pagan philosophy, the two should not be identified with each other. It was the language of Neoplatonism rather than i t s substance which Plotinus adapted, in order to convey the essence of mystical experience. In using the language of the one to express the experience of the other, he emphasizes for us the fact that mysticism can never be simply a philosophic account of Reality; inevitably,- , i t is a kind of l i f e , an experience of Reality."*" Through his impassioned, yet orderly, description of the Mystic Quest, Plotinus came to exert an influence, unparall-eled in i t s extent, upon subsequent mysticism, both pagan and Christian. To-day, he i s recognized by many of the foremost Greek scholars as one of the great figures in the history of thought. The German scholar, Eucken, goes so far, Dean Inge t e l l s us, as to claim that his influence upon Christian theology 2 has been greater than that of any other single thinker. Certain i t i s , at any rate, that the impact of Plotinus upon Christian mysticism, both patristic and medieval, was profound. As a consequence, the writings of the early Christian mystics have come down to us couched in the language of Neoplatonism rather than in that of the New Testament; the writings of the Medieval Christian mystics echo and re-echo the same. The influence of Plotinus upon the spiritual temper of the Middle Ages was perpetuated, not through his own writings, (few of his followers even in his own day had actually read the Enneads), but indirectly, through the impact he made upon other thinkers and writers. Two of these, only, need be mentioned to illustrate the magnitude of this impact: St.Augustine and Diony-sius the Areopagite. It was chiefly through these giants of the early church that the mysticism of Plotinus reached the medieval world. The sincere, intellectual, and eloquent qualities of 1 Ibid, p.455. 2 Mysticism in Religion, pp.106-7. 11 St.Augustine's writings combined to make them one of the great moulding forces upon subsequent.Christian thought. Like Plotinus in the scope and power of his intellect and in his burning passion for the Absolute, St.Augustine came to exert an influence upon the formation of the medieval mystical tradition of the Middle Ages second only to that of the Bible i t s e l f . With Dionysius, the paradoxical concepts of the via negativa enter the Catholic tradition. This way of negation, common to the religions of India and of Greece, i s frequently ex-pressed in Neoplatonism. "The flight of the alone to the Alone""*" i s how Plotinus describes the complete stripping away of self in order that the soul may enter into the Presence of the Absolute Godhead. However, i t was Proclus, disciple of Plotinus and ex-ponent of a later type of Neoplatonism, possessing strong a f f i n -i t i e s with the ideas of India, who exerted the greatest influence upon Dionysius. As a consequence, many expressions common to the religious speculations of the East are to be found in Diony-sius. Dean Inge, strongly c r i t i c a l of the via negativa, accuses the Areopagite of attempting, within the framework of Christian-i t y , to graft Indian nihilism upon the platonic Doctrine of 2 Ideas. Regardless of what Dionysius has done from a theological point of view, his adaptation of terms, despite their source, is valid in so far as i t coincides with the facts of experience. The language of mysticism i s not something arbitrarily imposed upon the experience of mysticism.- The experience comes f i r s t ; 1 Underhill, Mysticism, p.300. 2 W.R. Inge, Mysticism. London, Methuen and Co., 1933, p.106. 12. the subsequent attempt o f the mystic to convey h i s experience f o r c e s him to r e s o r t to the most s u i t a b l e medium he possesses: t h a t of words. But the mystic chooses words, however inadequate, that express h i s experience. Miss U n d e r h i l l r e p l i e s to the opponents of the v i a n e g a t i v a i n her usual sane and healthy f a s h i o n when she says: I t has become a commonplace with w r i t e r s on mysticism to say t h a t a l l subsequent contemplatives took from Dionysius t h i s i d e a of "Divine Darkness," and entrance t h e r e i n as the soul's highest p r i v i l e g e : took i t , so to speak, ready-made and on f a i t h , and incorporated i t i n t h e i r t r a d i t i o n . To argue thus i s to f o r g e t t h a t mystics are above a l l t h i n g s p r a c t i c a l people. They do not writ e f o r the purpose of handing on a p h i l o s o p h i c a l scheme, but i n order to d e s c r i b e something f o r humanity. I f , t h e r e f o r e , they p e r s i s t - and they do p e r s i s t - i n using t h i s s i m i l e of "darkness" to describe t h e i r experience i n contemplation, i t can only be because i t f i t s the f a c t s . 1 The intense antipathy of Dean Inge, Rufus Jones and others towards the v i a negativa i s , I b e l i e v e , the r e s u l t of a lac k o f understanding of two t h i n g s : the d i f f i c u l t i e s innate i n m y s t i c a l expression, and the p r o p e n s i t i e s of the r e l i g i o u s t o -ward God. The t a s k of the mystic i s a tremendous one. He may or may not be a poet, possessed of a s p e c i a l a b i l i t y to comm-unicat e experience. Nevertheless, poet or no t , he f e e l s im-p e l l e d to t e l l others of h i s v i s i o n . The magnitude of h i s i n t e n t i s emphasized when we r e a l i z e that he seeks to comm-unicat e an experience that i s D i v i n e : an experience that has brought him i n t o d i r e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p with God Himself. Lan-guage f a i l s i n the face of the I n e x p r e s s i b l e . To describe God i s by n e c e s s i t y to l i m i t Him. Hence the r e s o r t of so many 1 U n d e r h i l l , Mysticism, pp.347-8. 13 mystics to what God i s NOT in an attempt to convey what He IS. Rather than profane the Godhead by the application of terms totally inadequate, the mystic f a l l s back upon the paradoxically 1 suggestive powers of negation. To me, the image of the "Divine Dark," found f i r s t in Dionysius and echoed variously by Eckhart, Tauler, Ruysbroeck, St.John of the Cross and countless other mystics i s perfectly valid: one need only attempt to look directly at the sun's light, so blinding in i t s brightness that i t becomes a "luminous darkness," to realize how apt this image of the Divine Dark is when applied to the Light of God. To see Him i s to enter the Darkness, the "Cloud of Unknowing," and "know only that we know nought." 2 In spite of the difficulty of communication with which the mystic i s faced, the fact emerges that mystics of a l l ages have attained a startling unanimity of expression. These descriptions, incoherent as they are, have a strange note of certainty, a strange note of passion, an odd realism of their own: which mean, wherever we meet them, that experience not tradition is their source. Driven of necessity to a negation of a l l that their surface-minds have ever known-with language, strained to the uttermost, failing them at every turn- these contemplatives are s t i l l able to communicate to us a definite somewhat; news as to a given and actual Reality, an unchanging Absolute, and a beatific union with i t , most veritably attained. They agree in their accounts of i t , in a way which makes i t obvious that a l l these reporters have sojourned in the same land, and experienced the same spiritual state. 3 The use of negative terminology arises, in part, from 1 2 3 Ibid., p.318. Ibid., p.337. Ibid., p.338. the inadequacy implicit in language; fundamentally, however, the distinction is much deeper: i t is a metaphysical one, involving what I have chosen to c a l l the propensity of the individual soul toward God. The form and the ultimate expression of the mystic's experience are dictated by the particular tendency of his ap-proach: where the emphasis i s on God's Immanence, the meeting with God and the expression thereof tends to be personal and Intimate; where the Transcendental qualities of God are upper-most, there exists, inevitably, i t seems, a sharp awareness in the mystic of the discrepancy between himself and the Absolute Godhead. The realizationof his own lack of perfection, of the difference in kind between himself and his God produces within him a great spiritual humility. His consequent attempt to con-vey his experience quite naturally leads him to the language of negation: to describe the Godhead in terms of affirmation seems a profanation. For the Christian mystic, these dual aspects of God's nature are reconciled in the.Doctrine of the Trinity wherein God exists Transcendent, the unknowable, undifferentiated One: Immanent, the supreme example of which is the Incarnation. The Christian mystic identifies himself with one or other of these attributes of God: with the love of God revealed through the personality of Christ or with the "otherness" of the Supreme Godhead. This latter leads inevitably to a l l we mean by the via negativa: to the joys, austere, but nonetheless real, of the "naughted soul"; to the subsequent attempts at description in the language of negation. These two forms of mysticism, the Christocentric and 15 the Theistic, based as they are on the Immanence and Transcen-dence of God, are simply different approaches to God. In some mystics, these are united but most contemplatives lean in their approach toward one or the other. Consequently, in their imagery, they tend to reveal a single aspect: either what Eckhart has called "the unknowable totality of the Godhead" or the "knowable person-ality of God.""*" Seen in this lig h t , as the predilection of certain mystics towards God i n his Transcendence and the conse-quent use of terms of negation by them in order to express their experiences of Him, the via negativa presents no d i f f i c u l t y . It represents simply one approach to God. Traditionally, the Mystic Way consists of the three-fold division Purgation, Illumination and Union. However, in her detailed analysis and study of the subject, Miss Underhill includes two additional stages: the i n i t i a l Awakening and the penultimate Dark Night of the Soul. Certainly, for application to the metaphysical poets, this latter five-fold division poss-esses greater scope and consequently wider significance. It i s recognized, however, that any attempt to present the Mystic Way as a gradation of definite stages i s , of necessity, an arbitrary one: such an outline i s merely diagrammatic. It is a composite picture compiled from the experiences of many mystics and hence f i t s no one mystic in toto. For just as there i s no typical poet, neither is there a typical mystic. Spiritual experience, since i t conforms to human behaviour in general, does not flow 1 Ibid., p.344• 2 Ibid., p.167 f f . 1 6 Into rigid patterns. Nevertheless, for purposes of analogy, the five-fold Mystic Way as developed by Miss Underhill pre-sents an excellent starting point. The necessary prelude to the reorganizing of the self upon higher planes of living is the stage known as Awakening. This varies with different mystics, its characteristics being dependent to some extent on individual temperament and environ-ment. In some mystics, the awakening of the transcendental consciousness is a sudden, abrupt experience, marking off the period of discontent and growing awareness that precedes i t from the heightened consciousness that comes with i t . One of the most moving accounts we possess of this type of conversation is that of Pascal's, written In strange, broken phrases on a scrap of parchment, known subsequently as his Memorial or Amulet. It begins; L'an de grace 1 6 . 5 4 lundi, 23 novembre, jour de Saint Clement, pape et martyr, et autres au martyrologe, veille de Saint Chrysogone, martyr et autres, depuis environs dix heures et demie du soir jusques environ minuit et demie, Feu, and continues: Dieu d'Abraham, Dieu d'Isaac, Dleu de Jacob, Non des phllosophes et des savants. Certitude. Certitude. Sentiment. Joie. Paix. ....JoieJ joie joieJ pleurs de joiel 1 In others, as in George Fox, Awakening takes the form of a gradual sense of enhancement. Be it sudden or gradual, this primary step in the Mystic Way differs, by the action implicit in i t , from that of a state of mere awareness. Marked by the 1 Underhill, Mysticism, p. 1 8 9 . 17. emergence of a passion f o r the Absolute that i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the m y s t i c , i t i s the beginning of a process of re-alignment wherein the e n t i r e being becomes possessed by the S p i r i t of God and i s subsequently purged and p r o g r e s s i v e l y transformed. Throughout, the f i v e - f o l d path of the mystic i s marked by a l t e r n a t e periods of joy and s u f f e r i n g : joy i n the stages of Awakening, I l l u m i n a t i o n and Union; s u f f e r i n g i n Pur-gation and the Dark l i g h t of the S o u l . Frequently, i n t h i s stage of Awakening, p a r t i c u l a r l y where i t i s a gradual process, these o s c i l l a t i o n s are experienced by the mystic on a smaller s c a l e . The happiness concomitant to i n i t i a l conversion brings with I t an acute r e a l i z a t i o n of imperfection, a sense of the discrepancy between the s e l f and God. The constant warring be-tween man's wo r l d l i n e s s and h i s s p i r i t u a l i t y , i n t e n s i f i e d i n the mystic, re - a s s e r t s i t s e l f and the p i l g r i m is thrown from, the heights of his new-found joy i n t o the depths of self-reproach and r e c o i l . " I was swept to Thee by Thy Beauty, and torn away from Thee by my own weight," says S t . Augustine."'" Judging from the accounts of the majority of the mystics, the process of Awakening tends to be a s i n g l e and abrupt experience, one i n which the e n t i r e circumference of existence i s suddenly enlarged. The mystic f e e l s , i n some indefinable way, that h i s own l i f e i s inseparable from that of a l l c r e a t i o n . The world takes on a new radiance and a sense of wonder: i t i s a l i v e w ith God's d i v i n i t y . This intense, p i e r c i n g beauty, possesses a p a r t i c u l a r poignancy: the mystic Is struck with the Divine 1 Confessions, quoted by U n d e r h i l l , Mysticism, p.178. 18. 1 sorrow at the heart of things. Some there are who, rather than look outward upon the manifestation of God's splendour, look inward and perceive the s p i r i t of God dwelling within themselves: these receive the 2 wound of Divine love. Here the Awakening is to God's personal rather than to his cosmic significance. In each instance, the revelation of God, both in His Transcendence and in His Immanence, comes with a s t a r t l i n g ecstasy. Out of the divine sorrow, the divine wound, a new consciousness is born: at this point, the l i f e of the mystic t r u l y begins. This new consciousness imposes upon the self certain stringent demands for i t s complete re-organization. Por the mystic, there i s no hesitation, no drawing back, no uncertainty. He is f i l l e d with a t h i r s t for perfection. It is t h i s tremendous, insistent c a l l which leads on to the higher l i f e of the s p i r i t . Many individuals of heightened consciousness have stood at the threshold of the door to the Divine L i f e and have never received this c a l l to enter. They have stood at the point of intense awareness, unable, through their own w i l l to go further, lacking the Impetus, brought about through the grace of God, to impel them. This is one of the paradoxes of the s p i r i t u a l l i f e : "the wind bloweth where i t l i s t e t h " . Those to.whom thi s c a l l has come are f i l l e d with a pervading sense of God's oneness, and a penetrating conviction of His nearness. The heart of the mystic is f i l l e d with a rush of love towards God. The b r i e f , exhilarating sense of temporary 1 Underhill, Mysticism, p.178. 2 Ibid ., p .196. 19. u n s e l f i n g , the momentary sense of freedom from e a r t h l y trammels i s replaced by a sharp s t i m u l a t i o n of the w i l l , a d e s i r e f o r r e -adjustment i n the l i g h t of the newly apprehended R e a l i t y . T h i s demand of the Supernatural f o r a response upon the part of the i n d i v i d u a l i s answered with h u m i l i t y and joy; the mystic sets out to decrease i n s e l f i n o r d e r that he may increase i n God. Here he enters i n t o the Way of P u r g a t i o n . "The essence of p u r g a t i o n , " says Richard of V i c t o r , " i s s e l f - s i m p l i f i c a t i o n . " 1 It i s the t u r n i n g of the s e l f from the u n r e a l to the r e a l l i f e : the o r i e n t a t i o n of the whole s e l f to r e a l i t y . T h i s i s accomplished by a slow and arduous process i n which the p u r i f i c a t i o n of the senses and the remoulding of the character i s undertaken. T h i s l a t t e r , the remoulding of the character, i s the p o s i t i v e aspect of the purgative way: i t i s the b u i l d i n g up and the c l e a n s i n g of that which i s t o remain and i s brought about by the p r a c t i c e of m o r t i f i c a t i o n , "the gymnastic of the s o u l . " 2 The negative aspect of the purgation c o n s i s t s of the s t r i p p i n g away of that which i s to be done away with, of those things which nourish the s e l f h o o d . I t i s r e a l i z e d through detach-ment of the s p i r i t . T h i s detachment i s the poverty of the mystic. It c o n s i s t s of a mental r a t h e r than of a m a t e r i a l s t a t e f o r , to the mystic, i t i s not a c t i v i t y t h a t i s s i g n i f i c a n t but r a t h e r the 3 q u a l i t y of a c t i v i t y : i t Is a t t i t u d e , not a c t , that matters. 1 I b i d . , p.204, c f . a l s o p.198 f f . 2 I b i d . , p.205-3 I b i d •, p.211. Poverty, chastity and obedience comprise the mystic detachment. Poverty consists of detachment from fin i t e things; chastity, of the poverty of the senses and the cleansing of them from personal desire; obedience, of the poverty of the w i l l , the abnegation of selfhood, the cultivation of holy indifference. The mystic comes to realize through the discipline of poverty the paradox implicit in i t : that i t is only in respect to things we neither possess nor desire that we obtain true liberty. The soul becomes more Godlike the further i t advances under its discipline of poverty. "Detachment and purity go hand in hand for purity is but detachment of the heart."1 Like detachment, mortification is a means to an end: i t is a process, an education by which the spi r i t is directed to higher ends. Through its practice, the spiritual resources of the mystic are directed towards a particular efficiency, a de-sired perfectedness. The process is not easy; i t involves heart-ache and humiliation. But the mystic knows there is no quest to the heights of the spiritual l i f e which does not f i r s t go through the valleys of suffering and renunciation. The way of the mystic is of necessity the way of the Cross: the Passion of Christ is 2 proof of the "divine necessity of pain." The pain of the mystic during purgation is frequently interspersed with moments, of intense joy, moments In which he obtains startling glimpses into the very heart of things. Grad-ually, as the self emerges from the-trials of the Purgative Way, 1 lpc.cit. 2 Ibid., p.222. these glimpses become progressively common until eventually a new harmony is established between the self, itself new, and the world, the Divine attributes of which i t has come to appre-hend more clearly. The mystic eventually enters into an illum-inated state of consciousness- "the f i r s t mystic l i f e "1 as i t Is commonly called by the mystics. The intimations of a higher Reality f i r s t perceived in the preliminary period of Awakening and the consequent re-ordering of the self in line with this Reality in Purgation now have their fulfillment in this state of illumination. The spiritual l i f e is a progressive one. Through d i f f i c u l t y , i t leads ever onward and upward: the perception gained at this new level of conscious-ness is of a higher order than that perceived formerly during Awakening or in the glimpses achieved during Purgation. At this new stage, a conscious harmony is established between the self in two directions: with the World of Becoming, the expression of God Immanent, which the mystic now sees through his newly heightened perception with a greater clarity, a deeper joy; with the presence of the Absolute, more real, more holy. Here, at this stage, the mystic begins in earnest "the practice of the presence of God." This division of the Mystic Way is the most extensive 3 and the most densely populated province of the mystics:^ i t is here that many of the poets most closely approximate the mystic. 1 Ibid., p.228. 2 Ibid., p.241. 3 Ibid., p.238. The most significant attribute of the illuminated state is the intense joy co-existent with i t . Here, in much of the mystical literature can be found the most l y r i c a l outpourings of love and rapture in praise of the harmony implicit in a l l l i f e . Blake has caught i t s essence when he says: To see the world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower; To hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour. The manifestation of God in nature gives rise to the commonest and simplest expression of mystic wonder. The effect of this apprehension upon the ego of the mystic is startling: there i s a vitalizing expansion of consciousness, an exaltation of the personality. The energy of the self both in Its intuitional and transcendental capacities i s increased enormously. It is not self-loss that i s achieved at this stage of Illumination but rather, through the careful self cultivation of the Purgative Way, a higher realization of the s e l f . Many mystics go no further than this f i r s t mystic l i f e . They mistake their joyous apprehension of a God-pervaded universe as final and complete. Certainly, at this stage, a very real sense of God i s achieved. However, the individuality of the self the exalted I-hood that i s experienced at this stage by the mysti is evidence that he has not yet reached the place where God i s a l l i n a l l . In great seekers, there comes this awareness of having arrived short of the ultimate goal. Gradually, for them, the intensified joy of the illuminated state is replaced by inter mittent periods of gloom, of spiritual fatigue and aridity. Moments of illuminated joy become progressively fewer and event-?.3. ually disappear entirely: the Dark Wight of the Soul sets i n . This is the period of disillusionment and suffering which separates the f i r s t mystic l i f e , the stage of Illumination, from the second mystic l i f e , the Unitive state. It is a time of moral and mental chaos, one in which the .spiritual equilibrium established during Illumination is completely overthrown, but the divine harmony of ultimate Union is not yet achieved. It is midway between the breakup of the old and the establishment of the new. It exemplifies the reaction from the stress of the increased mystical activity enjoyed during the spiritual growth 1 of Illumination. The Dark Night is directed towards the total abandon-ment of the sel f . Its whole function is to cure the self of the desire even for spiritual joys: i t must not seek rest and happi-ness in the vision of Reality but must be_ Reality. Those who oppose the via negativa in its earlier manifestations are equally vehement in their antagonism toward i t in this stage of the Mystic Way. Whether we approve or disapprove of a l l that the Dark Night signifies is of l i t t l e import: the details of experience exist and we can only present them as recorded by the mystics. The concept of "self naught ing" may or may not be repugnant to us but the fact remains that the greatest mystics have undergone this mystic death and have des-cribed its sufferings in vivid and convincing terms. Out of this great negation has come the supreme affirmation. During Purgation, the mystic undertakes the cleansing 1 Underbill, Mysticism, p.382; cf p.380 f f . 24. of the senses i n order that he may view the nature of R e a l i t y w i t h the v e i l s of i l l u s i o n swept away. He undergoes what St. 1 John of the Cross has c a l l e d the "Dark Night of the senses." Now, at t h i s advanced stage, the Upper School^ of the s p i r i t u a l l i f e , the mystic i s c a l l e d upon not merely to apprehend R e a l i t y but to partake of i t . He knows that only by being Godlike can he know God, that i n order to know, he must be. This Involves the cleansing of the w i l l and the emotions, the complete surrender of the s e l f to God, the entering i n t o the "Dark Night of the s p i r i t " The intense s u f f e r i n g endured by the mystic In t h i s stage of the Mystic Way has i t s source i n two things: i n the p i e r c i n g awareness of the discrepancy s t i l l e x i s t i n g between the s e l f and God, and the f e e l i n g of de p r i v a t i o n the mystic undergoes i n h i s acute sense of abandonment by God. The V i s i o n of R e a l i t y apprehended i n I l l u m i n a t i o n serves only to emphasize the d i s p a r i t y between the f i n i t e s e l f and the I n f i n i t e Godhead. The mystic i s f i l l e d w i t h a sense of imperfection, a conviction of s i n . Not only does God seem to have withdrawn, but the very spark of D i v i n i t y w i t h i n himself, so c a r e f u l l y nourished through the former stages of h i s s p i r i t u a l growth, now seems u t t e r l y extinguished. To one who i n the stage of I l l u m i n a t i o n had joyously experienced the proximity of the Divine presence, the p r i v a t i o n Is a l l the more d i f f i c u l t to endure. 1 st.John of the Cross, The Dark Night of the Soul,' London, Thomas Baker, 1916, 4th Ed., Revised. 2 Op cit.p.597. 3 Op c i t . 25. This is the mystic death in a l l its starkness. There arises within the mystic a hopeless despair. He Is beset with a numbing lassitude, a spiritual ennui. From this, the self seems unable to escape. Not only is the vision of Reality with-drawn, but the desire for the vision disappears. The w i l l , the intellect and the emotions undergo a process of complete stag-nat ion. This is the Dark before the Dawn, the Entombment before the Resurrection.1 The mystic is called upon to accept this discipline in the face of darkness and desolation. The entire travail of the mystic death Is directed toward this necessary acceptance, this act of submission. Only when the individual w i l l is surrendered to the Divine Will does the mystic pass out of the torment of the Dark Night. The Cross endured, the Crown is won. The surrendered self emerges purified, "one with the 2 Absolute Life of God." Joy is the keynote of the new l i f e but the extent and nature of this joy is beyond our comprehension. We see the cross clearly, but we can hardly guess the true nature of the resurr-3 ection l i f e . The accounts of the mystics themselves seem meagre and strangely anticlimactic after a l l that has gone before. However, i t is their lives rather than their writings that pro-vide us with the supreme witness to the Unitive L i f e . "What fruit dost thou bring back from this thy vision?" is the fina l question which Jacopone da Todi addresses to the mystic's soul. 1 Underhill, Mysticism, p.402. 2 Loc c i t . 3 Underhill, Mysticism, p.412. 26. And the answer Is: "An ordered l i f e in every state.""1" In their attempts to describe the great change wrought in this final stage of the Mystic Way, the mystics, like the poets, turn to language that is highly symbolic. Where the emphasis has been on the transcendent aspect of the Godhead, the transformation is described as a deification, a "trans-2 mutation of the self In God." Where worship has been personal and intimate, this change is referred to as the spiritual marriage of the soul with God; the betrothal of the soul which came about in Illumination is consummated now in Union. As we read the accounts of the mystics, as we study their lives, we are constantly made aware of the paradox In spiritual growth: that only through self surrender does the mystic come to know freedom: only in self abandonment does he find self realization. Thus i t is that the transformation of the self achieved in the Unitive Life i s as complete as the cleansing that has preceded i t ; the exaltation of the soul is proportionate to its previous humiliation. Those who emerge victorious from this last purgation represent the final triumph of the s p i r i t , the flower of mysticism, the top note of humanity. In the enhancement, serenity and gladsomeness which their lives possess, they have an unquestionable verification of the authen-t i c i t y of their experience. The radiance of the transformed 1 Evelyn Underhill, The Essentials of Mysticism, London, J.M. Dent, 1920, p.23.' 2 Op. c i t . , p.415. 3 Benedict Zimmerman, "Introduction" to The Living Elame of Love, by St.John of the Cross, London, Thomas Baker, 1912,pp. x l v i - x l v i i . 4 Op. c i t . , p.413. l i f e is simply the outward sign of its inner state. This transformation is essentially purposive: i t is not mere attainment for Its own sake. The purged self arrives at the source of Divine Energy in order that It may return again to the world. The intense vigour of the mystic is a v i t a l i t y creative in its essence: a new responsibility, a new sense of obligation, both to God and to humanity presents i t -self. The deified l i f e is thus a dedicated l i f e . It rests in God but i t is active in the world; indeed, it is active by virtue of its Divine rest. "Give what Thou dost demand; and then demand what Thou wilt," is the prayer of St. Augustine.1 The l i f e of the mystic represents at this stage, as at no other, both the constant demand of the Eternal, and the perpetual response of the individual. The Unitive Life is an extension along two levels of reality: in the Eternal, through increasing adoration and capacity for God; in the temporal, through. Ceaseless activity in the world. The mystic becomes a channel for the Eternal in time. In order to be healthy, the spiritual l i f e demands this necessary balance between contemplation and action. Surrender and activity go hand in hand: a surrender marked by love and adoration; an activity marked by zest and cheerfulness. Eor the mystic, the fundamental distinction between the Supernatural and the natural is not overcome; rather i t is resolved, - in a l i f e balanced by worship and service. 1 Evelyn Underhill, "Spiritual Li f e " , in Mixed Pastures, London, Methuen and Co., 1933, P• 4-9• 28. The mystic exemplifies a beauty, a holiness, and a love, a l l of which stem from the Divine. His l i f e is truly an Imitation of Christ: i t re-enacts In part, however incompletely, the mystery of the Incarnation. "Not I, but Christ in me" is the secret of the mystic l i f e . It is the Way, the Means, and the End. C H A P T E R I I 2 9 . The capacity for mystical experience of the highest order is rare. The application of the term mystic, however, is not reserved only for those who actually enter the Unitive Life: those who undergo the Purgative Way and achieve some degree of Illumination deserve to be recognized as mystics. Unfortunately, the term has been grossly misused outside the realm of the spir-itual l i f e entirely and perhaps nowhere is this more true than in i t s frequent reference to poetry. In a sense, a l l poetry worthy of the name is "mystical" in that i t imparts in greater or lesser degree a vision of Real-i t y . It does not follow from th i s , however, that a l l poets are mystics. Art is the communication of apprehended Reality. Its purpose, said Blake, is to "cleanse the doors of perception so that everything may appear as it is - Infinite."1 The mystic goes beyond this in his purpose: he seeks not only to apprehend Reality but also to unite himself to i t . When we come to study the mystic-poet, we are confronted with a di f f i c u l t y that is twofold: we must attempt to understand him within two areas of experience- the poetical and the spiritual. In some instances, the borderline between the two i s very vague. Nevertheless, spiritual and poetical experience are not one and the same thing as we are so often led to believe by the frequent and casual application of the term "mystic" to the poet. Indeed, the combination of spiritual and poetical genius in one person is a rare occurence. As Mr. T.S. Eliot has shrewdly declared, 1 Itrat-Husain, The Mystical Element in the Metaphysical Poets of the Seventeenth Century, London, Oliver and Boyd, I948, p.34. 30. "The capacity for writing poetry is rare; the capacity for religious emotion of the f i r s t intensity is rare; and it is to he expected that the existence of both capacities in the same individual should be rarer s t i l l . "1 2 The confused association of mysticism with poetry arises to some extent from the similarity between their medie . of expression. In order to convey their visions of Reality, both the poet and the mystic turn to words rich in imagery and symbolism. But the essential difference between the poet and the mystic at this point is the actual fact of expression. With-out this, the poet is not a poet; he is merely a visionary. The mystic, on the other hand, whether or not he seeks to convey his vision, i s s t i l l a mystic. The expression of his experience is simply a by-product of i t , not its excuse for being. For the poet, however, the end of his vision is the poem: it is the 3 essential and the defined consequence of his experience. For the mystic, the TJnitive Life is the consequence of his vision. Thus, out of their respective experiences, emerge the pattern, the value and the significance of the poet's poem, of the mystic's l i f e . The actual difference, and, paradoxically enough, the greatest similarity between the poet and the mystic l i e in the essential experiences by which they partake of Reality. It is 1 T.S. E l i o t , After Strange Gods,London, Faber & Faber,1933,p.2?. 2 From this point on I shall use the term mystic and its derivations in the strict sense as applying to spiritual exper-ience only.• 3 Helen Gardner White, The Metaphysical Poets, N.Y., Macmillan Co., 1936, pp.15-1^ 31. here, as Abbe Bremond has pointed out in his book, Prayer and Poetry, that we come to understand the poet more completely through our understanding of the mystic, many mystics having written of their experiences in such a way that the process of mystic endeavour is comparatively clear to us, certainly relat-ively so in comparison with our knowledge of the poetic process. The unfettering of the self and the exhilarating sense of freedom which accompany the artist's insight is very similar to the heightened consciousness enjoyed by the mystic in Illumination. The essential difference l i e s in the purpose and consequence of each experience. Nevertheless, the expansion of the self and the subsequent heightened vision which the mystic and the poet undergo are similar: the one is lost In the many; the self is diffused in the whole. Ultimately, in both poet and mystic, this expansion has its complementary contraction. For the poet, it is the necessary gathering and concentration of energy and intellect that enables i n i t i a l poetic Inspiration to become concrete in poetic form. The mystic's diffusiveness gathers i t s e l f together, too, but in an act of concentration that is a following through, a completion of the Illuminated experience; for him, the appre-hension of the Reality of God realized in Illumination becomes a concentration upon this Reality and an ultimate absorption with i t in Union. The essential difference, then, between the Illumin-ation of the mystic and that of the poet lies in the sense of direction involved. It is as i f a •channel were set up between God and the mystic, between God and the poet. For the mystic, this channel i s a two-way process along which the love of God may flow to him, and his own love and desire may reach to God. 32. For the poet, the channel operates on a single l e v e l . As Dom Auburg has declared, "Poetry is a sign; i t indicates a higher faculty.o.capable of receiving God, though incapable of appre-hending Him."1 The intimations of Reality vouchsafed to the artist in his illuminated vision of the world stem from the Divine but they have their consequence, not in a returning effulgence of devotion and dedication but rather in an act of creation; for the poet, in his poem. The poet is sent to speak, rather than to be. Whereas the mystic attempts to re-order his l i f e in line with his vision, the poet seeks merely to convey the wonder of i t . "They are like half-saints," says Abbe Bremond of the poets, "they have the most exquisite spiritual sense and the most cowardly conscience. Their genius seems to confer on 2 them a sort of sanctity Independent of a l l virtue." Because of what he considers is essentially a drawing back on the part of the poet in order to write h i s poem, Abbe Bremond refers to the poet as "an evanescent mystic whose mys-3 ticism breaks down." This description seems to me to be unjust in that i t is a misinterpretation both of the purpose and of the method of the poet, however partial a grasp we may possess of the latter. The poet is a poet by virtue of his poetry, which, in turn, is t h e outcome of h i s illuminative experience. It follows that i f we accuse him of not following through an experience that rightly belongs to another species of individual, we are denying 1 Quoted by Abbe Bremond, Prayer and Poetry, trans, by Alger Thorold, London, Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd.,1927, p.87. 2 Ibid., p. 194. 3 I b i d . , p.189. him the validity of his own experience. We cannot condemn the poet, as poet, because he is not a mystic. Neither do I understand how the poet's ultimate creative act constitutes, or necessitates, as Abbe Bremond insists, any willed drawing back from the apprehension of Reality. Like grace, surely the ecstasy of the vision, its presence, i t s de-parture, is something over which the artist has no control. Bremond maintains that in his haste to exploit and transmit the treasure of his vision, the poet handles it badly, in that he gets hold of it superficially."1" This Idea of Bremond's is con-trary to the generally accepted theories of artistic creation. Poetic experience, or the state of illuminated vision granted to the poet, is not the same as poetic inspiration. Out of the original experience come the suggestions and symbols for the ultimate poem but the inspiration that immediately precedes the actual writing of the poem may not take place for a considerable period of time. The poet carries his vision with him in his heart t i l l he is moved to share its secretin poetry. A lapse of time between the vision of Reality and the ultimate expression of i t is characteristic of poetic endeavour. Strangely enough, Abbe Bremond seems to contradict his own thesis when he outlines the essential difference between., the mystic and the poet in these words: It is very certain that we have to pass through God in order to reach effectively the smallest reality, but i t is no less certain that we can only pass through God by means of God. Now to pass through the living and hidden God is to enter the mystical order; i t is to accept detachment, the night of the 1 Ibid., p.190. 34. senses and of the understanding, the g r a t u i t o u s i n i t i a t i v e of the heavenly Father, the d o c i l e response to the grace of c h a r i t y , the e f f e c t i v e union of our w i l l w i t h the d i v i n e w i l l . Without t h i s i n i t i a t i v e , without t h i s superhuman and s p e c i a l i n f u s i o n of l i g h t and love, and without the a c t i v e response of Animus (the reason) to t h i s God whom he has recognized and named,there may no doubt sometimes occur simple mimetisms, and a l s o p r e l i m i n a r y sketches, preparations, and h y p o t h e t i c a l a n t i c i p a t i o n s of the s o u l , but there i s no mysticism i n the proper and sacred sense of the word. 1 I I The term "mystic-poet" has been f r e q u e n t l y used i n reference to the metaphysical poets of the seventeenth century. In approaching Herbert and Vaughan c r i t i c a l l y w i t h the intent to v a l i d a t e or i n v a l i d a t e i t s a p p l i c a t i o n i n the l i g h t of t h e i r own work and the c r i t e r i a of the m y s t i c a l l i f e , one i s confronted w i t h the problem of weighing the extent to which they may be considered mystics i n the s t r i c t sense of the word against that to which they are e s s e n t i a l l y and p r i m a r i l y poets, expressing experiences merely s i m i l a r to those of the mystics. In some cases, the Issue tends to be f u r t h e r clouded by the type of l i f e l e d and t h e kind of poetry w r i t t e n , as i n the case of Herbert, who entered Holy Orders. The r e l i g i o u s l i f e i s by no means n e c e s s a r i l y the mystic l i f e ; n e i t h e r , however, i s r e l i g i o u s poetry n e c e s s a r i l y that of a mystic. Much of our s o - c a l l e d r e l i g i o u s verse t e s t i f i e s to t h i s f a c t . I t i s not the substance of poetry that makes i t m y s t i c a l : i t i s the v i s i o n i t e n t a i l s . But i t i s not the v i s i o n alone which c o n s t i t u t e s the c r i t e r i o n of the mystic; i t i s the l i f e l e d i n consequence of the v i s i o n . The l i f e that i s s p i r i t u a l d i f f e r s from that which i s t r u l y 1 I b i d . , pp.193-6. 5 5 mystical, not in kind, but rather In degree. In their v i c i s s -itudes and in their joys they w i l l resemble each other, for their pursuit is the same: the l i f e of the mystic Is simply ordered on a higher plane. What I am attempting to do with two of the meta-physical poets i s not simply to show the mystical element in their poetry but rather to distinguish, i f possible, elements in their poetry which illustrate the extent to which these men may be considered mystics. As I have already suggested, the very fact that these men were poets precludes the inference that they are mystical in the sense of being visionary but i t does not establish them as mystics. Aldous Huxley has caught the essential difference between the artist who is a visionary and the true mystic in these words: The experience of beauty in art or nature may be qualitatively akin to the immediate, unitive experience of the divine Ground or Godhead; but i t is not the same as that experience, and the particular beauty-fact experienced, though partaking in some sort of the divine nature, is at several removes from the Godhead. The poet, the nature lover, the aesthete are granted apprehensions of Reality analagous to those vouchsafed to the selfless contemplative; but because they have not troubled to make themselves perfectly selfless, they are incapable of knowing the divine Beauty in its fullness, as i t is in i t s e l f . The poet is born with the capacity of arranging words in such a way that something of the quality of the graces and inspirations he has received can make itself felt between the lines of his verse. This is a great and precious gift; but i f the poet remains content with his g i f t , i f he persists in worshipping the beauty in art and nature without going on to make himself capable, through selflessness, of apprehending Beauty as i t is in the Divine Ground, then he is only an idolator. "True, his idolatry is among the highest of which human beings are capable; but an idolatry, none the less, it remains. 1 1 Aldous Huxley, Perennial Philosophy, N.Y.,Harper and Brothers, 194-5, pp.137-8' 36. The mark of the mystic i s to be found in his sanctity: without the re-ordering of the inner l i f e , the poet may not rightly be considered a mystic, regardless of the penetration of his insight. In the f i n a l analysis, one has to be a mystic; i t is not enough merely to write about the l i f e . Love and desire are the fundamental necessities and where these are absent, man, even though he be a visionary, cannot be called a mystic."'" The mystic-poet, then, i s one who, by endowment is a poet, and through dedication and resolve has become a mystic. Such an individual i s indeed uncommon. Helen White claims most justly that the great mystical poet w i l l have to be a person of 2 rare complexity and unity of consciousness. I disagree, however, with the inherent conflict she implies when she says, "For the poet cannot rest until he has found the words and the music that wil l ease the pressure of his feeling, that with the presentment of a new creation w i l l satisfy the craving of the imagination. On the other hand, the mystic is forever thrusting beyond the hungers andachings of experience to the place that is behind them all. -5 The creative activity of the poet i s , I fe e l , some-thing apart from and in no sense conflicting with his contemplative pursuits as a mystic. Whatever an individual may be in his vo-cation, there i s no necessary conflict with his mystical activity. St. John of the Cross, by way of example, was both contemplative and doctor. In a sense, his l i f e and his work cannot be separated, 1 Underhill, Mysticism, p.89. 2 White, Metaphysical Poets, p.26. 3 Loc. c i t . 37. but again, his contemplative activity may be considered apart from the work he f u l f i l l e d as doctor, although certainly one latter was considerably influenced by his mysticism. The mystic-poet, similarly, when not involved in mystical contemplation, pursues his vocation as poet. Mystical and poetical activities are frequently iden-t i f i e d because both involve contemplation. However, there i s a difference between mystical and poetical contemplation both in degree and in kind: the contemplation of the mystic involves complete identification with Reality; identification of the self with Reality in poetical activity is much less complete. The contemplative activities that result in the re-ordered l i f e of the mystic on the one hand and in the poem of the poet on the other, even when found in the same individual, w i l l likewise be different in kind. Here, there i s a dichotomy insofar as the mystic-poet tends, as a mystic, towards concentration; as a poet, towards diffusion. These tendencies, however, may be considered single and separate manifestations of his capacities both as mystic and as poet. The decision to be made in relation to two of the meta-physical poets of the seventeenth century, therefore, is whether these men reveal themselves as genuine mystics or simply as poets possessing deep spiritual insight and comprehensive vision. The likelihood of a conjunction of true mysticism both in their poetry and in their lives i s suggested by Jacques Maritain in his essay on "Christian Art": i f we substitute the word "mystic" for "Christian", we may say that the conjunction i s not impossible, 38. Say rather that it is d i f f i c u l t , doubly d i f f i c u l t -d i f f i c u l t y squared, because it is d i f f i c u l t to be an artist and very d i f f i c u l t to be a (mystic), and because the whole difficulty is not merely the sum but the product of these two difficulties multiplied by one another, for it is a question of reconciling two absolutes. 1 The essence of the difficulty is caught for us in these words of Era AngelIco: Art demands tranquility, and to paint the things of Christ, the artist must live with Christ. 2 1 Jacques Maritain, "Christian Art", in Art and Scholasticism With Other Essays, translated by J.E. Scanlan, London, Sheed and Ward, 1934, p. 69. 2 Ibid., p. 71. C H A P T E R III GEORGE HERBERT The 23rd Psalme The God of love my shepherd i s , And he that doth me feed: While he is mine, and 1 am his, What can I want or need? He leads me to the tender grasse, Where I both feed and rest; Then to the streams that gently passe: In both I have the best. Or i f I stray, he doth convert And bring my minde in frame: And a l l this not for my desert, But for his holy name. Tea, in deaths shadie black abode Well may I walk, not fear: For thou art with me; and thy rod To guide, thy staffe to bear. Nay, thou dost make me sit and dine, Ev'n in my enemies sight: My head with oyl, my cup with wine Purines over day and night. Surely thy sweet and wondrous love Shall measure a l l my dayes; And as it never shall remove, So never shall my praise. George Herbert. 39-Certainly of the metaphysical group, no poet is more frequently misunderstood and misinterpretated than is George Her-bert. The dichotomy of Donne is accepted and explored; the appraisals of Vaughan, Crashaw and Traherne are singularly con-sistent with their works: in Herbert, alone, known variously as he is by such similar epithets as "the saint of Bemerton" and "holy Mr. Herbert", a strange and interesting contrast arises between the legend that has grown up around his name and the character that emerges from his own writings. This contrast results partly from the fact that Herbert's works are seldom read in their entirety and from the fact also that an incomplete picture of Herbert tends to be most misleading. In the common anthologies of verse, we invariably find a selection of Herbert's poems to include the familiar and lovely "Virtue" as well as poems such as "The pulley", "The Flower", "The Pearl", "The Collar" — certainly a l l illustrative, penetratingly so, of the poetic convention to which Herbert so skilfully adhered and also of the spiritual travail which forms the substance of his poetry. But to appreciate Herbert's poetry to the f u l l both in its form and its content, indeed, in its singularly adroit adaption of form to content, the complete works must be read. Only then does the character which was relentlessly subjected to the shaft of a piercing self analysis emerge from the work that is an intrinsic expression both of .the artist and the man. Another serious barrier towards preventing an honest appraisal of George Herbert is the misleading picture given to us by Izaak Walton in his Life of George Herbert. The portrait of 40. sweet reasonableness painted by the generous and kindly biographer is true enough In i t s broad outline but i t is unfortunately mis-leading in its emphasis. The estimates of other oontemporaries serve, it is true, to enforce certain aspects of the picture pre-sented in Walton's L i f e . Herbert's own brother, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, said of him, "His l i f e was most holy and exemplary; i n -somuch that about Salisbury where he lived beneficed for many 1 years, he was l i t t l e less than sainted." Again, Nicholas Perrar, himself famed for the consecrated l i f e he led in the religious community of L i t t l e Gidding, spoke in his preface to Herbert's poems of the Bemerton ministry, likening i t to the l i f e of the primitive saints. The letters of another contemporary, Arthur Woodnoth, likewise substantiate Herbert's saintliness. Neverthe-less, i t is Walton, indebted though we are to him for the picture he has painted with such ease and charm, who is responsible for many of the misconceptions commonly held about Herbert. Speaking of the "incredible sanctity" of Herbert's consecrated years, he refers to this part of Herbert's l i f e as "one so f u l l of charity, humility and Christian virtues that i t deserves the eloquency of 2 St. Chrysostym to declare i t , " concluding his biography, "Thus he lived, and thus he died, like a Saint, unspotted of the world, f u l l of alms-deeds, f u l l of humility, and a l l the examples of a virtuous l i f e . " 5 Even in the light of Herbert's exemplary years 1 E.E. Hutchinson, "George Herbert: a Tercentenary," The Nine-teenth Century, March, 1933, P'359-2 Izaak Walton, "Life of George Herbert," Walton's Lives and The Complete Angler, London, Macmillan and Co., 1906, p.395. 3 Ibid., pp.420-1. 41. at Bemerton this statement is only superficially true and in the perspective of his entire l i f e and particularly in the light of his own poetry, i t is a great over-simplification of the facts. "In painting a glorious picture," says G-eorge Herbert Palmer "an artist selects a point of view, and to what is visible from that point subordinates a l l else. So Walton works. He paints us the Saint of Bemerton. And while too honest to conceal discordant facts from him who w i l l search his pages, he contrives to throw so strong a light on Herbert's three consecrated years that few readers notice how unlike these are to his vacillating thirty-six. Walton's portraiture has taken so firm a hold on the popular im-agination that i t may truly be said to constitute at present the most serious obstacle to a cool assessment of Herbert."•*• An aura of solemn sweetness, disturbingly lacking in force and positiveness is a l l too frequently associated with Herbert's early l i f e as well as with his years at Bemerton. Even the moderation and piety he examplified as a parish priest has in some strange way become clothed with an element of benevolent rusticity, more suggestive of compromise than of the synthesis actually achieved in the face of constant turmoil and conflict. The fact Is he is a poet in whom poetic style is truly indicative of character. His poetry is not easy-going; the sweet-ness revealed therein is not mild. And i t is illustrative both of the fibre of Herbert's spiritual l i f e as well as the quality and energy of his mind that i t was -his wish and his accomplishment 1 G-eorge Herbert Palmer, The l i f e and Works of George Herbert, Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflm and Co., 1915, Vol.I, pp . 45 - .6. 4 2 . that his rhymes should "engrave (his) love in steel."1 We know that "the Mark to aim at"2 became for Herbert a reality; but the mark thus achieved -- "the profound humility", "the perfect patience," "the Christian fortitude,"^--possesses its real significance only in the light of the complexities of Herbert's l i f e . Prom Walton we learn of Herbert's years at Cambridge and of his early leanings towards a l i f e at court with a i l its promise of a political career. He was both scholar and gentleman, the epitome of the Renaissance ideal. "...He had acquired great learning," Walton t e l l s us, "and was blessed with a high fancy, a c i v i l and sharp wit; and with a natural elegance both in his 4 behaviour, his tongue, and his pen." Herbert, conscious of the nature of his own wit, spoke of it as being too thoughtful, "a wit like a penknife in too narrow a sheath, too sharp for his body." Prom his early years at Cambridge where he f i r s t ded-icated himself to the writing of sacred verse until his entering the church, Herbert was constantly torn between worldly ambitions and his avowed intention to enter the service of G-od. Echoes of this conflict are found throughout his poetry. In "Affliction (1)n, he writes, 1 Hutchinson, Works, "Temper (1)", p.55. (In a l l the following references to Herbert's poetry, when using Hutchinson's edition, I shall indicate by the letter "H"). 2 George Herbert, "The Authour to the Reader", Preface to A Priest to the Temple or The Country Parson, Works of George Herbert, ed., E.E. Hutchinson, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1941, p.224. 5 The Country Parson, p.238. 4 Walton, L i f e , p.380. 5 Ibid., p.384. 43. Whereas my birth, and s p i r i t r a t her took The way that takes the town; Thou d i d s t betray me to a l i n g r i n g book, And wrap me i n a gown. I was entangled i n the world of s t r i f e , Before I had the power t o change my l i f e . 1 Herbert's c o n f l i c t was not completely solved by h i s e n t e r i n g Holy Orders: h i s worldly ambitions died hard. The l i n e i n "Man's Medley" which speaks of man's twofold l i n k between the l i f e of sense and the world of the a n g e l s — With t h ' one hand touching heav'n, with t h ' other e a r t h — i s thus t o u c h i n g l y a u t o b i o g r a p h i c a l . Herbert was never the calm s a i n t ; n e i t h e r was he h o l y i n the accepted and f u l l sense of the 2 word. There was always a noise of thoughts w i t h i n h i s h e a r t . In one of h i s l a t e r poems he speaks of the outward glory of the world as F a l s e g l o z i n g pleasures, casks of happinesse, F o o l i s h n i g h t - f i r e s , womens and c h i l d r e n s wishes, Chases i n A r r a s , guilded em.ptinesse, Shadows w e l l mounted, dreams i n a career, Embroider'd l y e s . . . , 3 and even i n h i s e a r l i e r poems 4 he i l l u s t r a t e s h i s awareness of the short-sightedness and the u t t e r f u t i l i t y of the "painted pleasures of court l i f e " . In " M i s e r i e " he c r i e s Oh f o o l i s h man! where are t h i n e eyes? How hast thou l o s t them i n a croud of cares? Thou p u l l ' s t the rug, and w i l t not r i s e , No, not to purchase the whole pack of s t a r r e s : There l e t them shine, Thou must go sleep, o r dine. 5 1 H., p.47. 2 Palmer, I I I , p.174. 3 "Dotage", H., p.167. 4 c f . Hutchinson, Works, p p . l x x - l x x v i i . Canon Hutchinson assumes t h a t the Williams MS. represents Herbert's e a r l i e r poems as w e l l as s e v e r a l of the o r i g i n a l d r a f t s of l a t e r poems. There-f o r e poems found i n the Williams MS. I have taken as e a r l i e r poems 5 H., p.114. 4 4 . In spite of his awareness of a l l Its emptiness, many years passed before Herbert turned his bach on a secular career. Whether his fin a l decision came as a result of his dashed expec-tations after the death of two of his most influential friends, followed soon by the death of the King himself, or of the death of his mother whose wish i t had always been for him to enter the ministry, we do not know. At any rate, subsequent to these events, Herbert resigned the Oratorship which he had held at Court for seven years and retired to the country. Shortly afterwards he announced his intention to enter Sacred Orders. That he was eventually able to resolve his conflict and his indecision Is demonstrated by the l i f e he led at Bemer-ton. The outward synthesis of the inner turmoil is indicative of the degree of harmony which lie achieved. We have, too, his own words spoken shortly before his death, In which he speaks nof the many spiritual conflicts that have passed betwixt God and my soul, before I could subject mine to the w i l l of Jesus 1 my Master: in whose service I have now found perfect freedom." Some readers of Herbert have taken this "perfect free-dom" of which he speaks to mean the peace experienced by the mystics and have, in like vein, interpreted the joys and travails expressed in The Temple as Illustrative of mystical experience. I shall now examine the validity of this interpretation in the light both of the Mystic Way as I have outlined i t and in the light of Herbert's own words in his poetry. Such an undertaking cannot f a i l to be, to some extent, 1 Walton, Li f e , p.417-a r t i f i c i a l : the activity of the mystic does not adhere to fixed patterns; neither does the creative process of the poet. To apply standards that pertain to mystical activity to the act-ivity of the artis t is admittedly a r t i f i c i a l , but i s , I think, valid In an attempt to understand and evaluate the man behind the a r t i s t . Where the medium of the art form is words, as in poetry, the difficulty is s t i l l greater. Words are the common-est and most complete form of communication we possess and it is d i f f i c u l t , in approaching poetry, to determine the area of actual experience, differentiating i t from that which is merely poetic in germ; particularly when we consider how the simple facts of experience may be altered and enhanced through the powers of the poet's imagination. In devotional verse, this problem is intensified be-cause of the added difficulty of distinguishing between what a poet really feels and what he would like to f e e l , between what is accomplishment and what is intention.1 In the devotional verse of the metaphysical poets, the distinction between purely imaginative experience and experience that is actual and personal Is further clouded by the traditions of the poetic convention within which these poets wrote. The artifice they sought and ob-tained is illustrative of two things: of artifice for its own sake, whereby they demonstrated their sheer delight and s k i l l in the subtle play of the intellect, and artifice as a device to express In compact, concentrated form, experience that is at once passionate and intense. Herbert frequently Illustrates one or both these types of arti f i c e ; the two are aptly demon-p.360. T ' S * E l l 0 t ' " G e ° r g e H e r b e r t » , The Spectator, March 12,1932, 46 strated in the telescoped imagery and diction of his metaphysical poetry. In "Jesu", we find a splendid example of poetic intensity that is illustrative both of compression of idea and of genuine religious feeling. Jesu is in my heart, his sacred name Is deeply carved there: but th' other week A great af f l i c t i o n broke the l i t t l e frame, Ev'n a l l to pieces: which I went to seek: And f i r s t I found the corner, where was I, After, where ES, and next where U was graved. When I had got these parcels, instantly I sat me down to spell them, and perceived That to my broken heart he was I ease you, And to my whole is JESU. 1 The poetry of Herbert is particularly interesting be-cause i t represents a new genre in English literature: the re-ligious love l y r i c , described by Palmer as "the cry of the i n -dividual soul to God,....a supreme lovesong, involving two persons and two only- the individual soul as the lover and i t s 2 divine and incomparable Love." In like vein, Hutchinson speaks of the lyrics as colloquies of the Soul with God or self-commun-ings which sought to bring harmony into the complex personality 3 that Herbert analyzed unsparingly. They express the "slow, sometimes almost despairing and always agonizing t o i l of the 4 proud and passionate man of the world towards spiritual l i f e . " The opinions regarding the mysticism in Herbert's 1 H., p.112. 2 G.H. Palmer, ed,, The Life & Works of George Herbert, Boston and New York, Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1903, I, 94. 3 Hutchinson, Works, p. xxxvii. 4 E l i o t , pp.. c i t . , loc. c i t . 47 poetry are many and varied. Perhaps we have an indication of Herbert's own attitude towards mysticism in his Notes on the Divine Considerations of Valdesso in which he voices his wari-ness of "private enthusiasmes and revelations."1 In contrast with Valdesso who placed particular emphasis on personal rather than on corporate religion, Herbert's religious experience, a l -though indeed highly personal, took shape within the context of the Anglican communion. The presence of mysticism i s certainly not excluded on grounds of orthodoxy, however: the greatest mys-tics have lived and worked within the framework of orthodox belief. Leishman claims that there is no trace of mysticism in 2 Herbert's writings; at the other extreme Osmond places Herbert among the mystics because he considers him a supreme exemplar of the science of divine love.5 I do not agree with either of these cr i t i c s ; nor do I go so far as Gerald Bullett who, in acknowled-ging the exquisite temper and workmanship of Herbert's poems, 4 claims there is nothing distinctively mystical about them. Professor Itrat-Husain is nearer to the truth, I f e e l , when he says that Herbert's descriptions of the wooing of his soul by God and the experience of God's love are certainly mystical in essence. 1 Palmer, I, p.370. 2 J.B. Leishman, The Metaphysical Poets, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1934, p.114. 3 Percy H. Osmond, Mystical Poets of the English Church, London, 3.P.C.K., 1919, pp.401-410; 4 Gerald Bullett, The English Mystics, London, Michael Joseph, 1950, p.102. (italics mine). 5 Itrat-Husain, Mysticism of, p.138. (italics mine). 48 "Though lie lias not the intensity and passion of a great mystic, his poetry is rich In mystical content. He is the poet who has known God and has f e l t the peace and joy of His presence and also the pain and agony of His absence in a manner peculiar to the mystics, and he has communicated his experience to us with the complexity and richness characteristic of a sensitive and sin-cere a r t i s t . "1 However, I disagree with Professor Husain when he be-comes more specific in his considerations, claiming, for instance that Herbert's early years are analagous to the period of the mystic's Awakening, that the development of his religious con-sciousness in the years of crisis belongs to the period of Pur-gation, and that the acute sense of alienation expressed in some of Herbert's later poems is indicative of the Dark Night of the Soul. The endeavour expressed in Herbert's poetry is genuinely and highly spiritual but I question whether it is illustrative of the Mystic Way in any one of its stages. At this point, It is wise to heed Miss Underhill's warning regarding generalizations about mysticism, remembering that a l l mystics differ one from the other. We must remember, too, the danger of treating as separate states those which, in 2 the living subject, are closely intertwined. ...We should constantly remind ourselves that such a proceeding is a r t i f i c i a l . The struggle of the self to disentangle itself from illusion and attain the Absolute is a l i f e struggle. Hence i t w i l l and must exhibit the freedom and originality of l i f e : w i l l , as a process, obey artist i c rather than scientific laws. It will sway 1 loc. c i t . 2 Underhill, Mysticism, p.229. 49. now to the light and now to the shade of experience: i t s oscillations w i l l sometimes be great, sometimes small. Mood and environment, inspiration and information, w i l l a l l play their part. 1 The Mystic Quest has for its ultimate aim the union of the human w i l l with the holy wi l l of God; a work, claims Father Benedict Zimmerman, the magnitude of which must be begun by God and accomplished by Him. Its beginning consists in the 2 grace of vocation, its end in the beatific vision. An attempt to ascertain the relationship, in Herbert, of vocation to grace throws considerable light on the degree to which his l i f e may be considered mystical. The opening lines of his poem "Affliction"(1) When f i r s t thou didst entice to thee my heart, I thought the service brave... 3 are often taken by those who consider him a mystic as indicative of mystical awakening. I believe these lines refer to Herbert's early dedication of his poetic powers to God. It is true that they are written in retrospect but, taking this into consider-ation, as well as the sense of decorum and restraint so basic to Herbert, they are lines singularly lacking in the joyous attributes commonly associated with the awakened consciousness. In "The Glance",4" we get another reference by Herbert to his i n i t i a l awareness of God's presence and demands: When f i r s t thy sweet and gracious eye Vouchsaf'd ev'n In the midst of youth and night To look upon me, .... 1 loc. c i t . 2 Father Benedict Zimmerman, "Introduction" to Dark Night of the Soul, by St.John of the Cross. 3 H., p.46. 4 H., p.1?1. 50. He continues, with exquisite expression, referring to the "sugred strange delight" Passing a l l cordials made by any art Bedew, embalme, and overrunne my heart, And take i t i n . We learn from Herbert how this "sweet original joy" worked within his soul, controlling and overcoming the "surging griefs" and the "bitter storms" to which he was constantly a prey. If thy f i r s t glance so powerfull be A mirth but open'd and seal'd up again What wonders shall we feel, when we shall see Thy full-ev'd loveJ 1 Can these lines be accepted as an indication of mystical Awakening? I believe, rather, they are indicative of the youthful poet whose early resolve found later expression in this dedication: Lord, my f i r s t fruits present themselves to thee; Yet not mine neither; for from thee they came, And must return. Accept of them and me, And make me strive, who shall sing best thy name. 2 Certainly, the transformation usually associated with the moment or process of Awakening is lacking in Herbert. The centre of interest is not shifted; neither are uncertainties and hesitations removed as they are in the awakened soul, the changes in whom, Miss Underhill t e l l s us, are recognized to be central for l i f e . ^ "Not for a moment does (the awakened soul) think of disobeying the imperative voice which speaks to him from a higher ,4 plane of reality and demands the sacrifice of a career." 1 loc . cit . 2 H., p.5. 3 Underbill, Mysticism, p . l 8 l . 4 loc. c i t . 51 We know t h i s i s not the case with Herbert. For years he hesitated before making h i s f i n a l d e c i s i o n to enter the Church. Even then, the d e c i s i o n was not without misgivings. He never possessed, as a n a t u r a l consequence of i n i t i a l Awakening, the l u c i d i t y and c o n v i c t i o n to make such a c t i o n i n e v i t a b l e . He might have p r o c r a s t i n a t e d , perhaps endl e s s l y , i f circumstances had not played the part they did i n helping him to come to a d e c i s i o n . I t seems that Herbert possessed from h i s early years, however p a r t i a l l y , a v i s i o n of God and a very r e a l concept of the homage tha t was His due. But i t was a v i s i o n he was never able to r e a l i z e f u l l y ; a homage he seemed f o r long u n w i l l i n g to pay. In h i s e a r l y l i f e , indeed throughout h i s e n t i r e l i f e , he possessed the dream but he lacked s u f f i c i e n t impetus to make the dream a r e a l i t y . Perhaps i t was grace rather than impetus that Herbert lacked-- grace, which, as we know, l i k e the wind, bloweth where i t l i s t e t h . C e r t a i n l y , i n Herbert's case, the wind blew exceeding f a i n t . He lacked the grace that would f o r t i f y h i s w i l l . He was never s u f f i c i e n t l y awakened, i n the f u l l mystical sense of t h i s term, to impel h i s complete surrender to God. Herbert was f u l l y aware of h i s l a c k of w i l l and h i s need f o r grace. In "Church-lock and key", he w r i t e s : I know i t i s my sinne, which locks thine eares, And binds thy hands, Out-crying my requests, drowning my t e a r s ; Or else the chilnesse of my f a i n t demands. But as cold hands are angrie with the f i r e , And mend I t s t i l l ; So I do l a y the want of my d e s i r e , Rot on my sinnes, or coldnesse, but thy w i l l . 1 1 H., p.66. 52 Indeed many of his poems are simply a plea for the blessing of grace. In the poem entitled "Grace", he says, sadly and beauti-ful l y : The dew doth ev'ry morning f a l l ; And shall the dew out-strip thy Dove? The dew, for which grasse cannot c a l l , Drop from above. Death is s t i l l working like a mole, And digs my grave at each remove: Let grace work too, and on my soul Drop from above. Sinne is s t i l l hammering my heart Unto a hardness, void of love: Let suppling grace, to crosse his art, Drop from above. 1 And in "Affliction" (IV), he cries: A l l my attendants are at st r i f e , Quitting their place Unto my face: Nothing performs the task of l i f e : The elements are let loose to fight, And while I l i v e , trie out their right. Oh help, my God I let not their plot K i l l them and me, And also thee, Who art my l i f e : dissolve the knot, As the sunne scatters by his light A l l the rebellions of the night. 2 He was truly A wonder tortur 'd in the space Betwixt this world and that of grace. 3 To proceed in a discussion of Herbert's spiritual experience from the viewpoint of its mystical content i s , to some extent, a r t i f i c i a l . The presence of any subsequent 1 H., p. 60. 2 H., p.90. 5 loc. c i t . 53. mysticism certainly presupposes i n i t i a l Awakening, and this, we judge from his poems, Herbert never fully experienced. The i n -completeness of his subsequent experience is in line with the incompleteness of his Awakening. Nevertheless, I wish to discuss his experience in an attempt to discover which elements in i t may be considered genuinely mystical. Doubtless there w i l l be some: a l l spiritual experience, though not necessarily mystical, is mystical in essence. The difference, as I have already noted, is one of degree. Mystical experience simply l i f t s the l i f e of the spirit to a higher plane. Many of.Herbert's poems illustrate the feelings, he possessed of his own unworthiness and of his acute sense of s i n . In "Miserie" he says: As dirtie hands foul a l l they touch, And those things most, which are most pure and fine: So our clay hearts, ev'n when we crouch To sing thy praises, make them lesse divine.... But sinne hath fool'd him. Now he is A lump of flesh, without a foot or wing To raise him to a glimpse of blisse: A sick toss'd vessel, dashing on each thing; Nay, his own shelf: My God, I mean my self . 1 Entering Holy Orders served only to increase, rather than lessen, Herbert's sense of unworthiness. . In "The Priesthood", he writes: I am both foul and brittle; much unfit To d eal In holy Writ. 2 and in "Aaron", Profaneness In my head, Defects and darkness in my breast, A noise of passions ringing me for dead, 1 H.,pp.101, 102. 2 H., p.l60. 54 Unto a place where is no rest: Poore priest thus am I drest. 1 The remainder of this poem illustrates a note of humility sim-i l a r to that of the mystic. This feeling of humility comes when Herbert turns from the recognition of his own unworthiness and inability to a complete reliance upon Christ: Only another head I have, another heart and breast, Another musick, making live not dead, Without whome I could have no rest: In him I am well drest. Christ is my onely head, My alone onely heart and breast, My onely musick, striking me ev'n dead: That to the old man I may rest, And be in him new drest. 2 In the mystic, i t is this consciousness of unworthiness that is instrumental In promoting a spirit of humility. Rarely, however, is this true of Herbert: generally, with him, the recognition of his own unworthiness proved to be a means of thwarting, rather than of furthering, God's purpose. Indeed, we find in Herbert a tendency to excuse his lack of w i l l on the grounds of his un-worthiness; a tendency illustrated for us in his poem "Dialogue": Sweetest Saviour, i f my soul Were but worth the having, Quickly should I then control! Any thought of waving. 3 A sense of sin and a consciousness of imperfection are not in themselves indicative of the Purgative Way. It is the significant activity consequent to these feelings that con-stitutes Purgation. The discrepancy f e l t to exist between the 1 H . , p . 174. 2 loc. c i t . 3 H . , p . 114. 55. individual and God carries with it demands for tlie necessary purification of the sel f . That Herbert experienced this sense of discrepancy is clear from the way In which he speaks of himself throughout his poems: drooping and d u l l , foul and b r i t t l e , a poor creature, a s i l l i e worm, a feeble s p i r i t . And that he was able to achieve a certain degree of purification we know from the reports of his consecrated years at Bemerton. Nevertheless, the most significant characteristics of Purgation are missing in Herbert: the single-mindedness, the mystic detach-ment, and above a l l , the stimulation of the w i l l . We find a con-stant note of self-condemnation but in contrast with the deter-mined activity of the mystic we discover a persistent tendency simply to deplore his ineffectualness and lack of w i l l . Prom a recognition of his own lack of Incentive he often turns to God in a plea for stimulation; 0 cheer and tune my heartless breast, Deferre no time; That so thy favours granting my request, They and my mind may chime, And mend my ryme. 1 In "Dulnesse", he cries, Why do I languish thus, drooping and dul l , As i f I were a l l earth? 0 give me quicknesse, that I may with mirth Praise thee brim-full I 2 and in "Praise", he implores: 0 raise me then! Poore bees, that work a l l day, Sting my delay, Who have a work, as well as they, And much, much more. 3 1 "Deniall" ,R>p.80. 2 H., p.115. 3 H., p. 6 1 . 56. However, it is only f a i r to say that Herbert is very like the mystics in temperament. Speaking from the psycholo-gical point of view, Miss Underhill describes this temperament as that mobile or unstable type in which the artist i c nature and the mystical consciousness each finds a place.1 It sways easily between the extremes of pleasure and pain in its gropings after transcendental reality. It often attains for a moment to heights in which i t is not able to rest: is often flung from some rapturous vision of the Perfect to the deeps of contrition and despair. 2 Herbert is a good example of the oscillations and variations common to this temperament but he does not exemplify its extreme manif-estations of joy and sorrow. Indeed, although he often refers to God's "Immeasurable love", his poetry is generally lacking in that intense awareness of God's presence which, in the mystic, is found to alternate between contrition and torment. In Her-bert, a state of struggle and unrest is almost continuous, inter-spersed only occasionally with flights of joy. Even then, the expression of joy at God's presence rarely compares either in Intensity or in frequency with the expression of bleakness and despair at His absence. For Herbert, almost inevitably, ultimate peace came through transformation of original pain. This is illustrated in "Man's Medley" when he says: Yet ev'n the greatest griefs May be re l i e f s , Could he best take them right, and in their ways. Happie is he, whose heart Hath found the art To turn his double pains to double praise. 3 1 Underhill, Mysticism, p.227. 2 loc. c i t . 3 H., p.132. 57-Here is the secret of Herbert's synthesis and here, too, is i t s circumference: within the scope of the individual poem Herbert demonstrates a sense of acceptance and reconciliation. The struggle and dif f i c u l t y of the poem's beginning resolves into a cessation of strife and an overcoming of difficulty in its close. "Palmer has wisely observed,"declares Hutchinson, "that in poetry Herbert 'probably found one of his few defences against pain': to make music of his suffering and disappointment was to gain relief and to fortify his f a i t h . "1 Time and again we find the key to Herbert's character in his most dramatic poems: they begin in varying moods of frustration, torment and rebellion; they give way through the synthesis achieved in poetic expression to a note of calm submission. His rebellious nature achieves harmony and peace through the unifying powers of his own art. Nowhere is this demonstrated more fully than in his well known poem "The Collar" which, for purposes of illustration, I shall quote in f u l l : I struck the board, and cry'd, No more. I w i l l abroad. What? shall I ever sigh and pine? My lines and l i f e are free; free as the rode, Loose as the winde, as large as store. Shall I be s t i l l in suit? Have I no harvest but a thorn To let me bloud, and not restore What I have lost with cordiall fruit? Sure there was wine Before my sighs did drie i t : there was corn Before my tears did drown i t . Is the yeare onely lost to me? Have I no bayes to crown it? No flowers, no garlands gay? a l l blasted? A l l wasted? 1 H., p.xxxviii. 58. Not so, my heart: but there is f r u i t , And thou hast hands. Recover a l l thy sigh-blown age On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute Of what is f i t , and not. Forsake thy cage, Thy rope of sands, Which pettie thoughts have made, and made to thee Good cable, to enforce and draw, And be thy law, While thou didst wink and wouldst not see. Away; take heed: I w i l l abroad. Call in thy deaths head there: tie up thy fears. He that forbears To suit and serve his need, Deserves his load. But as I rav'd and grew more fierce and wilde At every word, Me thoughts I heard one calling, Child I And I reply'd My Lord. 1 The expression of joy in Herbert is thus generally com-bined with various other moods conflicting with It. Rarely does he maintain a note of joy or praise throughout a single poem. Of a l l his poems, approximately a dozen may be considered as possessing a sustained note of l y r i c joy. Of these, the best examples i n -clude his two Faster poems, one beginning joyously, Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise Without del ayes. 2 and the other, his much loved, I got me flowers to straw the way; I got me boughs off many a tree: But thou wast up by break of day, And brought »st thy sweets along with thee. 3 "Vertue", beginning, 1 2 H., pp.133-4. H., p . 41. H., p.42. 59 Sweet clay, so cool, so calm, so bright, The bridall of the earth and skie..., 1 and the beautiful "Prayer", less known, undeservedly so, re-minding us in its imagery and rhythm of Gerard Manley Hopkins: Prayer the Churches banquet, Angels age, Gods breath In man returning to his birth, The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage, The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth; Engine against the Almightie, sinners towre, Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear, The six-dales world transposing in an houre, A kinde of tune, which a l l things heare and fear; Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse, Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best, Heaven in ordinairie, man well drest, The milkie way, the bird of Paradise, Church-bels beyond the starres heard, the souls bloud, The land of spices; something understood. 2 These poems can hardly be accepted, however, as an indication of the state of Illumination. It Is impossible to say whether or not Herbert ever attained the Illuminative, or for that matter, the Unitive Stage, outside the framework of his poetry. We do not know when his poems were written and it is possible that a lapse of time may have occurred between the last of these and his death. Though possible, i t i s , however, most unlikely. Being the intensely autobiographical poet that he was, it is more likely that, If he had experienced the joys of Illum-ination and Union, he would have devoted the f u l l measures of his poetic powers to the expression of them. Certainly, in his poetry, there is no indication of any experience that can be con-sidered as either Illumination or Union. Many of Herbert's shorter passages, nevertheless, 1 H., p.87. 2 H., p.51 • 6o. illustrate glimpses he caught of the Divine Presence. In "Whitsunday", for example, he writes: Lord, though we change, thou art the same; The same sweet God of love and light.... 1 Whether these glimpses were obtained by virtue of his spiritual or of his poetic insight, however, i t Is di f f i c u l t to say. A l l 2 artists share to some degree m the Illuminated life.. In Her-bert, artist and pilgrim truly meet. His recognition of God's immanence is illustrated In the lines of his poem "Providence" in which he says: Thou art In small things great, not small in any: Thy even praise can neither ris e , nor f a l l . Thou art in a l l things one, in each thing many: Eor thou art infinite in one and a l l . 3 Generally speaking, however, the joyous apprehension of God, associated with the mystic in Illumination, Is missing in Her-bert. He lacks, too, the clarity of vision which the mystic is known to possess. Rarely, in Herbert, is there a note of the world "charged with the grandeur of God." His vision was direc-ted inward rather than Godward. He was harnessed by the chains of self, conscious that he was a "crumme of dust (stretched) from' heav'n to h e l l " . Even God's omnipotence and omnipresence were inextricably wound up with his own limitations: Whether I f l i e with angels, f a l l with dust, Thy hands made both, and I am there: Thy power and love, my love and trust Make one place everywhere. 4 1 H., p.60. 2 Underhill, Mysticism, p.236. 3 H., p.118. 4 "The Temper," K., p.35-The Illumination of the mystic, by contrast, combines a certitude of God's presence with an exalted consciousness of self, this latter brought about by the realization of God's indwelling pre-sence within the self, - and exquisite expression of which Is given to us by St. John of the Cross: How gently and how lovingly Thou wakest in my bosom, Where alone Thou secretly dwellest; And in Thy sweet breathing Pull of grace and glory, How tenderly Thou f i l l e s t me with Thy love . 1 Herbert longed for a harmony such as this but almost 2 always there was an ague in his soul. Even when he wrote of God's blessings his praise served often simply to highlight his own suffering. As we read through The Temple, we find that i t is an impression of a tortured soul that is uppermost in our minds, an impression of a soul plagued continually by contradictions and inconsistencies. Only rarely, taking into consideration a l l Herbert's poems, do we find a note of serenity and peace. Herbert's poetic powers are shown to advantage in the poems which deal with his suffering. He possessed a turn of phrase which, with startling clarity, threw into relief the de-t a i l s of his own anguish. "My heart was in my knee,"^ he wrote, exemplifying in one close-knit statement surprising conciseness as well as extreme intensity of feeling. But i t is the actual experience that makes the expression of it so vivid: Herbert's poems are truly a record of his soul's agony. And it is here, in 1 St.John of the Cross, The Living Plame of Love, translated b y David Lewis, London, Thomas Baker, 19l2~ p.4. n 2 "The Crosse," II., p.lo5. 3 "Deniall", K., p.80. ^ 62 h i s s u f f e r i n g , that he is most l i k e the mystics. Of a l l the steps of the Mystic Way, i t is the Dark Night of the Soul that h i s own experience most nearly approximates. I do not wish to suggest that Herbert's experience i s comparable, e i t h e r i n depth or i n t e n s i t y , w i t h those of the mystics who have undergone the t e r r i b l e anguish of f i n a l purgation; only that there are several aspects i n which Herbert's t r a v a i l resem-bles that of the my s t i c s . P a r t i c u l a r l y i s t h i s true of the f e e l i n g experienced so often by Herbert of h i s a l i e n a t i o n from G-od and of h i s a t t i t u d e consequent to i t . Time and again he h u r l s , as i t were, h i s own sense of doubt and estrangement i n the face of God."'" "That h u r l i n g , " declares Miss White, " i s perhaps one of the soundest things i n Herbert, because there he faces the raggedness of human experience w i t h something of the honesty and confidence 2 of the mystics themselves." In "The Search", f o r example, he asks Where i s my God? what hidden place conceals thee s t i l l ? What covert dare e c l i p s e thy face Is i t thy w i l l ? • # • • 0 take these bar r e s , these lengths away; Turn and restore me. Be not, Almightie, l e t me say, Against, but f o r me. 3 In "Home", he-pleads: Come Lord, my head doth burn, my heart i s s i c k , While thou dost ever, ever stay: Thy long deferrlngs wound me to the quick, 1 Helen White, Metaphysical Poets, p . 1 8 4 . 2 l o c . c i t . 3 H., p . 1 6 5 . 63. My s p i r i t gaspeth night and day. 0 show t h y s e l f t o me, Or take me up to thee J 1 and i n "Longing", we f i n d one of Herbert's most despairing queries: With s i o k and famisht eyes, With doubling knees and weary bones, To thee my c r i e s , To thee my grones, To thee my s i g h s , my tears ascend: No end? 2 L i k e the mystics, Herbert knew the pain of remorse, brought about i n h i s own case mainly through h i s p e r s i s t e n t t e n -dency to p r o c r a s t i n a t e . But the momentum gained from h i s despair was abl e , upon occasion, to propel him nearer to God. He i l l u s -t r a t e s t h i s i n h i s poem "The Storm" i n which he says: A throbbing conscience spurred by remorse Hath a strange f o r c e : I t q u i t s the e a r t h , and mounting more and more Dares to assault thee, and beseige thy door. 3 L i k e the mystics, too, Herbert suffered from the f e e l i n g of h i s l a c k of s p i r i t u a l i t y , from the sense of God 's ind w e l l i n g s p i r i t having been withdrawn from him. In "Home", he c r i e s : 0 my Redeemer deare, A f t e r a l l t h i s canst thou be strange? So many yeares baptiz'd and not appeare? 4 Bleak misery i s echoed i n "A Parodie", one of his most my s t i c a l poems: Souls joy, when thou art gone, And I alone, Which cannot be, 1 H., p.107. 2 H., p.148 3 H., p.132. 4 II., p.108. 6 4 . Because thou dost abide with r.ae, And I dejjend on thee; Yet when thou dost suppresse The cheerfulnesse Of thy abode, And i n ray powers )>ot s t l v r e abroad, But leave me to my load: 0 what a damp and shade Doth me invade I No stormie night Can so a f f l i c t or so a f f r i g h t , As thy e c l i p s e d l i g h t , . . . 1 In a sense, Herbert's poetry reveals an almost con-t i n u a l Dark Night, Interspersed only o c c a s i o n a l l y w i t h express-ions of joy and cairn. And it, was mainly through the Church, i n her f e s t i v a l s , her sacraments, and her music, that Herbert was able t o achieve any degree of s p i r i t u a l happiness . AH example of t h i s peace, rare and l o v e l y , i s found i n the opening l i n e s of h i s poem m.Thit Sunday", i n which he w r i t e s , l o v i n g l y and beaut-i f u l l y , L i s t e n sweet Dove unto my song, And spread thy golden wings i n me; Hatching ray tender heart so l o n g , T i l l i t get wing, and H i e away with thee. 2 This peace Herbert revealed a l l too seldom, the expression of i t , t h e r e f o r e , we cherish a l l the more. Such l i n e s , and Indeed, occasional poems i n t h e i r e n t i r e t y , stand out l i k e shining jewels, possessing s i n g u l a r radiance and beauty. Of such i s Herbert's "Mattens", one of his most perfect poems: I cannot ope mine eyes, But thou art ready there to catch My morning-soul and s a c r i f i c e : Then we must needs f o r that day make a match. 1 H., p.lop. 2 II., p.59. 65. My God, what i s a heart? S i l v e r , or gold, or precious stone, Or s t a r r e , or rainbow, or a part Of a l l these t h i n g s , or a l l of them i n one? My G-od, what i s a heart, That thou shouldst i t so eye, and wooe, Powring upon i t a l l thy a r t , As i f that thou hadst nothing els to do? Indeed mans whole estate Amounts (and r i c h l y ) to serve thee: He d i d not heav'n and earth create, Yet studies them, not him by whom they be. Teach me thy love to know; That t h i s new l i g h t , which now I see, May both the work and workman show: Then by a sunne-beam I w i l l clirabe to thee. 1 S u f f e r i n g i s , however, a very r e a l and necessary part of the Mystic Way. For i t i s only through s u f f e r i n g that the mystic eventually achieves h i s complete surrender t o God. How complete Herbert's surrender was we cannot say but we get an I n d i c a t i o n of how he achieved i t i n the f i n a l words of h i s poem "The Crosse". When he turned from his own s u f f e r i n g to that of Ch r i s t he found the answer i n C h r i s t ' s own words: Thy w i l l be done. These c o n t r a r i t i e s crush me: these crosse actions Doe wlnde a rope about, and cut ray heart: And yet since these thy contradictions Are properly a crosse f e l t by thy Sonne, With but foure words, my words, Thy w i l l be done. 2 Having subjected h i s w i l l to Jesus, Herbert t e l l s us he then came to know perfect freedom i n His s e r v i c e . C e r t a i n l y i n the l i g h t of h i s years at Bemerton, no one w i l l question t h i s s t a t e -ment. His l i f e i n the priesthood exemplified the highest ide a l s of C h r i s t i a n s e r v i c e . These years are remarkable i n themselves 1 K., pp.62-6J. 2 H., p.132. 66. but they are s t i l l more remarkable when they are considered in the light of the conflict revealed in Herbert's poetry. Then, and only then, can we appreciate the quality of the l i f e Her-bert lived. That he knew peace we do not question, but i t was not the peace of the mystic. For nowhere in Herbert do we find even an approximation of the vision and serenity exemplified here, for example,by St.John of the Cross: Rapt in oblivion, the soul Doth, in a single moment, learn More than the busy brain and sense, With a l l their t o i l , could ever earn. Mirrored within its God, i t viev/s To-day, to-morrow, and the past, And faith sees here, in time, the things That through eternity shall l a s t . 1 It is doubtful whether Herbert ever came to know the joys of the "peace which passeth a l l understanding". The peace which seems to have been granted to him was momentary by nature: it consisted of pauses, not resting-places, in his turbulent career. Impermanence of this nature is found in his poem "The Familie": Joyes oft are there, and griefs as oft as joyes; But griefs without a noise: Yet speak they louder than distemper'd fears. What is so s h r i l l as silent tears? This is thy house, with these it doth abound: And where these are not found, Perhaps thou com'st sometimes, and for a day; But not to make a constant stay. 2 Herbert's moments of peace were brief periods of windless calm between the storms which preceded and those which were yet to 3 come. 1 The Living Flame, p.309-2 H., p.137. 3 Leishman.The'' Metaphysleal Poets, p.132, 67. I t i s quite p o s s i b l e that h i s statement regarding the p e r f e c t freedom he found was spol-cen during one of these pauses from s t r i f e . There i s nothing i n h i s poetry, at any r a t e , to i n -d i c a t e that he was able to grasp and maintain a sense of peace; r a t h e r i s the opposite t r u e . His i n a b i l i t y to achieve any l a s t i n g peace i s I l l u s t r a t e d i n the opening verse of h i s poem "The Bunch of Grapes": Joy, I d i d l o c k thee up: but some bad man Hath l e t thee out again: And now, me t h i n k s , I am where I began Sev'n yeares ago: one vogue and v e i n , One a i r e of thoughts usurps my b r a i n . I d i d towards Canaan draw; but now I am Brought back to the Red Sea, the sea of shame. 1 I t h i n k the s i n g l e work which best t r a c e s the v a c i l l -a t i o n s , the l i g h t s and shadows, the joys and sorrows of Herbert's l i f e i s h i s l o v e l y , and yet t r a g i c poem, "The Flower". It may be s a i d of many of Herbert's poems that h i s whole experience Is i m p l i c i t i n each; nowhere i s t h i s statement more true than i n t h i s poem: How f r e s h , 0 L o r d , how sweet and clean Are thy retu r n s t ev'n as the flowers i n s p r i n g ; To which, besides t h e i r own demean, The l a t e - p a s t f r o s t s t r i b u t e s of pleasure b r i n g . G r i e f melts away L i k e snow i n May, As i f there were no such cold t h i n g . Who would have thought my s h r i v e l ' d heart Could have recover'd greennesse? It was gone Quite under ground; as flowers depart To see t h e i r mother-root, when they have blown; Where they together A l l the hard weather, Dead to the world, keep house unknown. 1 H., p.128. These are thy wonders, Lord of power, Ki l l i n g and quickning, bringing down to hell And up to heaven in am houre; Making a chiming of a passing-bell. We say amisse, This or that Is: Thy word is a l l , If we could spell. 0 that I once past changing were, Past in they Paradise, where no flower can wither J Many a spring I shoot up f a i r , Offring at heav'n, growing and groning thither: Nor doth my flower Want a spring-showre, My sinnes and I joining together. But while I grow in a straight line, S t i l l upwards bent, as i f he av'n were mine own, Thy anger comes, and I decline: What frost to that? what pole is not the zone, Where a l l things burn, When thou dost turn, And the least frown of thine is shown? And now in age I bud again, After so many deaths I live and write; 1 once more smell the dew and rain, And relish versing: 0 my onely light, It cannot be That I am he On whom thy tempests f e l l at night . These are thy wonders, Lord of love, To make us see we are but flowers that glide: Which when we once can finde and prove, Thou hast a garden for us, where to bide. Who would be more, Swelling through store, Forfeit their Paradise by their pride. 1 We see from this poem how precariously Herbert's l i f e hung be-tween the extremes of joy and grief. His spiritual growth was not a steady advance containing, as the l i f e of the spirit gener-ally does, periodic setbacks. Herbert's l i f e consisted of sudden and continual change. He was forever being '"brought down to hell and up to heaven in an houre"'; unhappily, he knew more of anguish than of joy. He was truly a passing bell but one of whom God 1 H., pp.165-167 69 made only occasional ohime. "0 that I once past changing were" was Herbert's perpetual cry and i t i s t h i s cry which gives us the clue to h i s s p i r i t u a l l i f e f o r i t reveals his l a c k of constancy: i t i s t h i s , the t r a g i c flaw i n h i s nature, that denied him any l a s t i n g peace. Mr. Aldous Huxley has caught the essence of Herbert's temperament when he says, "The climate of the mind i s p o s i t i v e l y E n g l i s h i n i t s variableness and i n s t a b i l i t y . E r o s t , sunshine, hopeless drought and r e f r e s h i n g r a i n s succeed one another with bewildering r a p i d i t y . Herbert i s the poet of t h i s inner weather• "^ The a t t r i b u t e s commonly l i n k e d w i t h Herbert's name be-come, as a consequence of his variableness, only more s i g n i f i c a n t . For Bush i s r i g h t when he says, " . . . I t i s to Herbert's w r i t i n g s and l i f e that we owe much of our p i c t u r e of the order, strength p and beautjr of seventeenth century Anglicanism at i t s best." But i t i s only through the combination of Herbert's w r i t i n g s , — and here I r e f e r s p e c i f i c a l l y to the poems of The Temple and to his prose work, The Country Parson, — and of his l i f e at Bemerton, that we a r r i v e at a complete p i c t u r e of t h i s order, strength and beauty: through the actual struggle revealed i n the poems, the Ideal mark i n The Country Parson, and the synthesis of the two i n the l i f e l i v e d . Indeed, we may draw an i n t e r e s t i n g analogy between Herbert's poetry and h i s l i f e . In each he achieved h a r -mony: i n the one, p o e t i c ; i n the other, s p i r i t u a l . In h i s poetry, the turbulence of i t s matter attained harmony of expression through 1 Aldous Huxley, Texts and P r e t e x t s , London, Chatto and Windus, 1949, p.12. 2 Douglas Bush, E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e i n the E a r l i e r Seventeenth Century, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1945, p.138. 70. an exacting form. In his l i f e , his inner conflict achieved outer harmony through the disciplined ideal set forth in The Country Parson. The precision and the clarity of his verse were matched by the control and the dignity of his l i f e . In reality, few of Herbert's poems are specifically Anglican in their content: those wliich may be considered spec-i f i c a l l y so include his long preliminary poem, "The Church Porch" and, of course, his shorter, better known, "The British Church", in which he illustrates the sense of decorum basic to his nature: I Joy, deare Mother, when I view Thy perfect lineaments and hue Both sweet and bright.... A fine aspect in f i t aray, Neither too mean, nor yet too gay.... 1 Herbert exemplifies Anglicanism, it is true, in the moderation and restraint of his l i f e at Bemerton. The via media of the Anglican Church provided him with a mode of worship and a rule of l i f e which f u l f i l l e d both his love of beauty and his feeling for reverent order. Frequently, in The Country Parson, he reiterates the necessity of letting " a l l things be done decently and in 2 order". The Mark at which Herbert aimed, and subsequently achieved, is illustrated in the words which describe the Parson as being "exceeding exact in his Li f e , being holy, just, prudent, temperate, bold, grave in a l l his wayes."^ Through the devotions and the rule of the Church, Herbert sought no "larger measure" but found in its via media the scope and the challenge for his 1 H., p.10?. 2 The Country Parson, H; p.236. 3 Ibid., p.227. 71. own " s t r i c t , yet welcome size."1 He has been cited by some critics as being specifically r i t u a l i s t , by others, s a cr amenta-l i s t . That he was both these, I agree, but neither predomin-antly so. His religion was f i r s t and foremost intensely personal and individual. It took shape and found expression within the framework of the Anglican Church, achieving its fullest and richest harmonies through her sacraments and In the celebration of her festivals. I agree with Palmer when he says Herbert was a ri t u a l i s t In the sense that his ritualism was based, not on conformity, but on the grounds of beauty and serviceability whose 2 appeal to him was in answer to an internal need. Beauty of expression combines with beauty of devotion in the poems which deal with the daily office of the Church. Particularly is this true of "Mattens" and of Its complementary tone-poem, the lovely "Even-Song". These show the reverence that Herbert brought to his worship, the harmony that he received from i t : Thus in thy ebony box Thou dost enclose us, t i l l the day Put our amendment in our way, And give new wheels to our disorder'd clocks. 3 The poems which deal with the festivals of the Church show Her-bert's deep love for each landmark of the Christian year. "Easter" and "Whitsunday", already noted, are two examples; others include "Christmas" in which his feeling of awe and his longing to serve are illustrated: 1 "The Rose;'H.n.l73. 2 Palmer, I, pp.82-3-3 H., p.64. 72. The shepherds sing; and s h a l l I s i l e n t be? My God, no hymne f o r thee? My soul's a shepherd too; a f l o c k i t feeds Of thoughts, and words, and deeds. The pasture i s the word: the streams, thy grace Enriching a l l the p l a c e . Shepherd and f l o c k s h a l l s i n g , and a l l my powers Out-sing the d a y - l i g h t houres ... . 1 and "Lent", showing how necessary r e s t r a i n t and s e l f - d e n i a l are to those who would go " i n the way which C h r i s t hath gone." Here, we see how Herbert's cognizance of h i s " s t r i c t , yet welcome s i z e " f i n d s p o s i t i v e a p p l i c a t i o n w i t h i n the holy customs of t h i s s i n g l e f e s t i v a l . " I t ' s true," he wrote, we cannot reach C h r i s t ' s f o r t i ' t h day; Yet to go part of that r e l i g i o u s way, Is b e t t e r then to r e s t : We cannot reach our Saviours p u r i t i e ; Yet are we b i d , Be holy ev'n as he. In both l e t ' s do our best. 2 Herbert found i n the sacraments of the Church a means of overcoming h i s own s i n and of coming c l o s e r to the Divine Love he sought unceasingly. Love i s that l i q u o r sweet and most divine Which my God f e e l s as bloud, but I , as wine. 3 S e l f l e s s n e s s was, however, d i f f i c u l t f o r him: sometimes the sacred elements of Bread and Wine seemed capable only of checking the unruliness and r e b e l l i o n of h i s s o u l : Yet can these not get over to my s o u l , Leaping the w a l l that parts Our-souls and f l e s h y hearts; But as th'outworks, they may c o n t r o l l My r e b e l - f l e s h , and ca r r y i n g thy name, A f f r i g h t both sinne and shame. 4 1 H., p.81. 2 II., p.87. 3 "The Agonie", H., p. 37-4 "The H. Communion", H., p.52. 73. I t was through the m i r a c l e of the E u c h a r i s t , nevertheless, t h a t Herbert came t o know moments of ecstasy: i t may be s a i d , i n con-sequence, that the pinnacles of h i s s p i r i t u a l l i f e weresacramental r a t h e r than m y s t i c a l . Having r a i s e d me to look up, In a cup Sweetly he doth meet my t a s t e . But I s t i l l being low and short, F a r r e from court, Wine becomes a wing at l a s t . 1 As a r u l e , however, the elements served as a gentle means of grace, possessing h e a l i n g and saving powers, granting t r u e s p i r -i t u a l r e s t and peace: There i s a balsome, or indeed a bloud, Dropping from heav'n, which doth cleanse and c l o s e A l l s o r t s of wounds; of such strange f o r c e i t i s . 2 Although we r a r e l y f i n d t h i s note of harmony i n Her-b e r t ' s poetry, i t was the keynote of the l i f e he l i v e d as the p r i e s t of Bemerton. There he achieved a t r u e beauty of h o l i n e s s . The discrepancy that e x i s t s between the experience revealed i n the poems and t h a t of Herbert's l i f e i n the priesthood i s ex-p l a i n e d i f we t u r n to h i s own words i n The Country Parson i n which he speaks of the n e c e s s i t y of being "cloathed with p e r f e c t patience, and C h r i s t i a n f o r t i t u d e i n the c o l d midnight stormes 3 of persecution and a d v e r s i t y . " This was the mark Herbert set f o r himself, and t h i s i s the mark he achieved i n h i s l i f e . His poems, as we know, are f u l l of the "stormes of persecution and adver-s i t y . " But to Herbert, these were the concern of h i s own s o u l , 1 "The Banquet", H., p.181. 2 "An O f f e r i n g " , H., p.147. 3 H., p.237. 74. a.matter between God and h i m s e l f . I t would have been contrary to his concept of p r o p r i e t y to allow the viccissitudes of h i s Inner l i f e t o disrupt i n any way the performance of his p r i e s t l y duties. The decorum wioh which he c a r r i e d out h i s d a i l y round of a c t i v i t i e s had a double heritage: It was the expression, on the one hand, of the v i a ruedia, of the Anglican temperament; at the same time, it was the expression of the innate reserve, re-finement, and delicacy .which Herbert, the Renaissance gentleman, brought to h i s r o l e as c l e r i c . For even when Herbert turned h i s back on a l i f e at court, he s t i l l retained the q u a l i t i e s of the e x q u i s i t e c o u r t i e r . Many of the passages i n The Country Parson, f o r instance, bespeak the perfect well-bred gentleman rather than the Anglican d i v i n e . His f a s t i d i o u s a t t e n t i o n to d e t a i l through-out is e s s e n t i a l l y a r i s t o c r a t i c . Schooled i n the t r a d i t i o n of the Renaissance, he brought w i t h him, too, the standards of ex-cellence these t r a d i t i o n s embodied. Me f e e l that whatever Her-bert undertook t o do, he undertook to do well. He remained wo r l d l y but worldly i n the best sense of the word: he sought not to conform to the world but to transform his every a c t i o n i n the world i n such a way tbe.t each would be performed to the greater glory of God. This Is the substance of The Country Parson; Its poetic counterpart i s to be found i n the l i t t l e poem "The E l i x i r " , In these few l i n e s , Herbert catches the essence of the i d e a l he sought and accomplished: Teach me, my God and King, In a l l things thee to see, And what I do In any t h i n g , To do i t as f o r thee: 75. Hot rudely as a beast, To runne Into an a c t i o n ; But s t i l l to make thee prepossest, And give i t his p e r f e c t i o n . . . . A l l may of thee partake: Nothing can be so mean, V/hich w i t h h i s t i n c t u r e (for thy sake) W i l l not grow br i g h t and clean. A servant w i t h t h i s clause Make s d rudge r i e d i v i n e : Who sweeps a room, as f o r thy laws, Makes that and th'act ion f i n e . This i s the famous stone That turneth a l l to gold: For that which God doth touch, and own Cannot f o r lesse be t o l d . 1 I t was i n the d i v i n e here and now, i n the performance of the d a i l y t a s k , that Herbert sought to e x t o l and to serve God. The s p i r i t of his devotion i s caught by Miss White i n these words: I t i s along the roads of t h i s earth that he goes to meet that immortal Easter, and the dust and the chambers of t h i s world from o. which he wrings the secret of the peace of God. There was l i t t l e In Herbert's r e l i g i o n that was m y s t i c a l ; but h i s a s p i r a t i o n s were e s s e n t i a l l y those of the mystic. For his quest was one whose boundaries and whose p r i z e l a y i n l o v e : i n h i s deep hunger f o r God's love and In h i s constant o f f e r i n g of h i s own love to God. Many of h i s poems of love are, i n r e a l i t y , simply love l y r i c s . Their just p a r a l l e l , claims Professor G r i e r -son, i s to be found In a sonnet sequence such as that of Petrarch's Laura.^ They are "the record or u-oa's wooing of the soul of 1 ri. , p.lb4. 2 White, The Metaphysical Poets, p.40 >. 3 H.J.C. Grlerson, gross. Currents i n E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e of the Seventeenth Century, London, Chatto and WIndus, 1929, p.216. 76. Herbert recorded i n the C h r i s t i a n story and. the seasons and symbols of the Church, and Herbert's wooing oi" God, a record of c o n f l i c t s and f l u c t u a t i n g mood and expostulation with God lilra-1 s e l f . . .1* He was t r u l y God's troubadour. His exq u i s i t e l i t t l e l y r i c "Bitter-Sweet" i l l u s t r a t e s how ap t l y ne appropriated the methods of the sonneteers: the substance i s that of sacred love but the language i s that of profane l o v e . Ah my deare angrie Lord, Since thou dost l o v e , yet s t r i k e , Cast down, yet help a f f o r d ; Sure I w 111 do the 1 i k e . I w i l l complain, yet p r a i s e ; I w i l l b ewail, approve: And a l l my sowre-sweet dayes I wII1 lament and l o v e . 2 In these few l i n e s , Herbert s t r i k e s h i s most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c note of change, r e v e a l i n g h i s i n a b i l i t y to s t r i k e a steady note i n h i s devot ion s . The l i f e of the s p i r i t never runs along an even plane; p a r t i c u l a r l y i s t h i s true i n Herbert. His early years of h e s i t a t i o n and i n d i r e c t i o n l e f t t h e i r mark and took t h e i r t o l l i n h i s subsequent f e e l i n g s of i n s t a b i l i t y and f r u i t l e s s n e s s . The God whom he knew he would one day serve was not e a s i l y found when he eventually turned to Him. His reticence to give to God the f u l l homage of hi s heart had i t s r e s u l t i n h i s frequent i n a b i l i t y to overcome the distance he had placed, through time, between God and hi m s e l f . There Is no question of the q u a l i t y of the l i f e Herbert l i v e d at Bemerton. I t was indeed h o l y . We know from Herbert's poems, however, that h i s s a i n t l i n e s s was achieved i n the face o f , 1 l o c . c i t • 2 II., p.171-indeed, in spite of, his persistent inner struggle for peace. The simplicity and devotion of the priest of Bemerton was the triumph of a singularly complex and d i f f i c u l t nature, one to whom the l i f e of the spirit offered l i t t l e rest and perpetual challenge. C H A P T E R IV HENRY VAUGHAM Peace. My S o u l , there i s a Countrie Par beyond the s t a r s , Where stands a winged Centrie A l l s k i l f u l 1 i n the 'wars, There above no i s e , and danger Sweet peace s i t s crown'd with srail And one born i n a Manger Commands the Beauteous f i l e s , He i s thy gracious f r i e n d And (0 my Soul awakel) Did i n pure love descend To die here f o r thy sake, I f thou canst get but t h i t h e r , There growes the flowre of peace, The Rose that cannot w i t h e r , Thy f o r t r e s s e , and thy ease; Leave then thy f o o l i s h ranges; For none can thee secure, But one, who never changes, Thy God, thy l i f e , thy Cure. 78. We turn now to Henry Vaughan who i s known variously as poet of l i g h t , nature-poet, mystic, and most commonly of a l l , perhaps, as nature-mystic. Poet of l i g h t he certainly i s , the very t i t l e of his most significant c o l l e c t i o n of poems contains the word s c i n t i l l a n s . and even a cursory reading of his poems reveals his fondness f o r l i g h t imagery. A quality of c e l e s t i a l brightness permeates his poetry, a quality i l l u s t r a t e d with beauty and c l a r i t y i n what j u s t l y may be considered his best known l i n e s : "I saw Eternity the other night l i k e a great Ring of pure and endless l i g h t " 1 and "They are a l l gone into the world of l i g h t " . VaughanTs imagery i s , however, simply part of h i s whole approach to nature and i t i s through an analysis of his treatment of nature that we come to understand him both as poet and as pilgrim, and arrive, as a consequence, at a conception of the mystical element i n his poetry. Vaughan's best poems are to be found i n his collection of "Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations" known as Silex S c i n t i l l a n s . published f i r s t i n I65O, a second edition, altered and enlarged, appearing f i v e years l a t e r . These poems are p a r t i c u l a r l y s i g n i f i c a n t i n revealing the influence of George Herbert upon Vaughan. Between the printing of Vaughan's f i r s t poems, a collection of secular poetry, and Silex S c i n t i l l a n s . a very definite change took place i n his l i f e . He underwent a 1 "The World", Vaughan*s Works, edited by L.C. Martin,Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1914, Vo.II, p.4 6 6 .(All excerpts from Vaughan's works are taken from Martin's edition: from now on, reference w i l l be made simply by the l e t t e r "M" with the volume number i n brackets) 2 Ibid., p.483. 79 serious illness that affected him considerably but i t was the reading of The Temple, more than any other single event, that most profoundly influenced him. Vaughan speaks both in his prose writings and in his verse of the change this book wrought in him. "The f i r s t , that with any effectual success attempted a diversion of this foul and overflowing stream." he writes in his preface to Silex Scintillans. alluding to his secular verse, "was the blessed man, Mr. George Herbert, whose holy l i f e and verse gained many pious Converts, (of whom I am the least)...."1 Although his second volume of verse was ready for the press when he came under Herbert's influence, Vaughan may truly be considered, until this contact, a poet in search of a subject. The reading of The Temple seems to have provided the stimulus to the channel-ling of his poetic inspiration, whereas formerly his Muse had been secular, henceforth, with few exceptions, she became divine. There are many examples of Herbert's direct influence upon Vaughan's poetry. Indeed, Vaughan has been criticised for his frequent and flagrant borrowing from Herbert. In poem after poem, in t i t l e , theme, phrase, and occasionally in a poem in i t s entirety, Vaughan echoes his predecessor. Hutchinson claims there i s no other example in English literature of one poet 2 borrowing so extensively from another. In some cases, i t is not only the extent of the borrowing that surprises us but also the manner of i t . Frequently, the variation from the original is very slight, as, for example, when Herbert's exquisite "Easter", 1 M (II), p.391. 2 F.E. Hutchinson, Henry Vaughan. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1947, pp.102-103. 8o. I got DIP flowers to straw the way; I got me houghs o f f many a t r e e : But thou wast up by break of day -> And brought 'st thy sweets along with thee. be come s, i n Vau ghan's "Palm-Sunday": I ' l e get me up before the Sun, I ' l e cut me boughs off many a t r e e , And a l l alone f u l l e a r l y run To gather flowers to welcome thee. 2 ~7 According to S i r Arthur Quiller-Couch,J the art of p i l f e r i n g and s p o i l i n g could scarcely be better i l l u s t r a t e d than by the two poems, "The Agonie", by Herbert, and "The Passion", by Vaughan. Herbert's Love i s that l i q u o r sweet and most divine Which my G-od f e e l s as bioud: but I as wine. 4 i s echoed weakly by Vaughan: Most blessed Vine I Whose ju i c e so good I f e e l as Wine, But thy f a i r e branches f e l t as blond.... 5 From Herbert's "Aaron", these l i n e s ; Profaneness i n my head, Defects and darknesse i n my breast. 6 becomes i n Vaughan's "Repentance": Profaneness on my tongue doth r e s t , Defects, and darknes i n my b r e s t . 7 In s p i t e of evidence such as t h i s , some readers of Vaughan con-tinue to i n s i s t that his borrowing from Herbert was n e g l i g i b l e . 1 H., p.42. 2 M ( I I ) , p.502. 5 A. Quiller-Couch, Studies In L i t e r a t u r e , Cambridge, Univ-e r s i t y P r e s s , p. 1920, p.140. 4 H., p.37-5 M ( I I ) , p. 431. 6 H., p.174. 7 M (II) , p.449. 81 The f a c t s , however, prove otherwise. Professor Martin i n h i s e d i t i o n of Vaughan's V/orl'.?, shows how considerable h i s borrow-ing was. Even though the seventeenth century a t t i t u d e toward p l a g i a r i s m d i f f e r e d g r e a t l y from, what; ours Is to-day, i t Is d i f f i c u l t , nevertheless, f o r the modern reader to remain un-aff e c t e d by the flagrancy of Vaughan's borrowings. In his poem " P r a i s e " , f o r Instance, Herbert's poem of the same name becomes a mere I n t e l l e c t u a l e x e r c i s e , l o s i n g the p e c u l i a r q u a l i t y of r e s t r a i n t and r e l i g i o u s Intensity c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the o r i g i n a l . I t was not w i t h i n Vaughan»s capacity to say: Wherefore with my utmost a r t I w i l l s i n g thee, And the cream of a l l my heart I w i l l b r i n g thee. I This p a r t i c u l a r genius of expression belongs to the e x q u i s i t e refinement and delicacy of Herbert's devotion. I t i s not a derogatory c r i t i c i s m by any means, how-ever, to say that Vaughan's devotion and his subsequent ex-pression of I t simply sought channels d i f f e r i n g from those of Herbert. T.3. E l i o t , w r i t i n g of the two poets, says of Herbert's 2 emotion that i t i s c l e a r , d e f i n i t e and sustained. C e r t a i n l y , the majority of the poems i n The Temple w i l l v a l i d a t e t h i s judgment. Mr. E l i o t ' s claim, however, that the emotion of Vaughan i s vague, adolescent, f i t f u l and r e t r o g r e s s i v e ^ i s , I f e e l , unnecessarily harsh and unsympathetic. It i s true that Vaughan, f o r the 1 H., p.146. 2 T.S. E l i o t , "The S i l u r i s t , " The D i a l , LXXXIII, (September, 1927, p.263. 3 l o c . c i t . 8 2 , most part, was unable to sustain a poetic mood in the superb manner of Herbert. His most beautiful poetry consists of single stanzas, lines, and even phrases. Nevertheless, there are poems, which., taken in their entirety, possess artistic unity and a sus-tained level of feeling. Of these, the poem "Peace" which pre-faces this essay is one of the most felicitous examples. Quite apart from Vaughan's obvious Imitations, the Influence of Herbert upon Vaughan is f e l t in the direction which Vaughan's poetry took. Miss White claims that i t is as inspir-ation, in helping Vaughan to find himself, that the influence of Herbert really counts.1 "It must never be forgotten that had not Vaughan tried to do what Herbert had done and he could not do, he might never have found what he could do, as could no other poet 2 of his time in his own limited genre." It was through Herbert's influence that Vaughan turned from the t r i v i a of light amatory verse and dedicatory epistles to more profound themes, about which he came to feel most deeply: those dealing with eternity and time and man's relationship with each. It is here that Vaughan realized himself both spiritually and poetically. The difference that exists both poetically and spir-itually between Vaughan and Herbert is illustrated simply and clearly by the manner in which each turns to Jesus. Herbert addresses Him as "My Master"; to Vaughan, He is "My dear, bright Lord, my Morning Star."^ Herbert worships at the shrine of the 1 Metaphysical Poets, p.267. 2 Ibid., p.284. 3 Osmond, The English Church, p.154. 83. a l t a r ; Vaughan's shrine Is the v a u l t of heaven, stars are the a l t a r candles that l i g h t the way f o r him. A r t i s t i c a l l y , i t i s t r u e , Herbert i s a l l of a piece: he s k i l f u l l y adapts form t o content. And a p a r a l l e l of t h i s adaption of form to content i s to be found i n Vaughan, although, generally speaking, h i s adaption i s l e s s s k i l f u l l than that of Herbert > In contrast to the conciseness of s t y l e found i n Herbert, VaughanTs poems possess a l o o s e r l o g i c a l s t r u c t u r e . His subject range i s ampler than that of Herbert;. ; i t i s more c e l e s t i a l by nature, and we f i n d t h i s d i f f e r e n c e r e f l e c t e d i n h i s s t y l e , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n h i s f r e e r verse forms and i n h i s f l i g h t s of imagery. The author of England's Antiphon has caught the v i r t u e and the f a u l t of Vaughan's creati v e capacity when he claims, "Vaughan says more splendid things than Herbert, though he wr i t e s i n -f e r i o r poems."1 Eor the most p a r t , t h i s i s t r u e , but there are times when h i s v i s i o n soars beyond that of Herbert; then h i s poetic expression i s able to match Herbert at his best w i t h a f e l i c i t y unsurpassed f o r i t s i n t e n s i t y and l o v e l i n e s s . Rare and heightened images tumble one upon the other In a rush of beauty. Sundays are: Bright shadows of true Rest I some shoots of b l i s s e , Heaven once a week; The next worlds gladnes prepossest i n t h i s ; A day to seek E t e r n i t y i n time; the steps by which We Climb above a l l ages; Lamps that l i g h t Man through his heap of dark days; and the r i c h And f u l l redemption of the whole weeks f l i g h t . 1 George Macdonald, England's Antiphon, London, Macmillan and Co., 1868, p . 2 5 2 . 8 . . . Transplanted Paradise; Gods walking houre; . . . A Gleam of g l o r y , a f t e r six-days showres. 1 Night i s " C h r i s t ' s progress, and h i s prayertime; The hour to which Heaven doth chime."2 In Herbert there i s nothing that surpasses l i n e s such as these: But, as i n nature, when the day Breaks, night adjourns, Stars shut up shop, mists pack away, And the Moon mourns. 3 Herbert's influence upon Vaughan was twofold; not only was i t l i t e r a r y , i t was also s p i r i t u a l . Under h i s i n f l u e n c e , he became not only a poet, but a r e l i g i o u s poet. In h i s poems, Vaughan frequently acknowledges t h i s twofold debt to Herbert. In "To A f t e r Ages", he speaks of Herbert as . . . the pride of our L a t i n i t y S i x years w i t h double g i f t s he guided me. 4 and i n "The Match" he addresses Herbert as Dear Fr i e n d I whose holy, e v e r - l i v i n g l i n e s Have done much good To many, and have checkt my blood.... jj I t was the content of Herbert's verse, however, rather than i t s method, that had the greatest e f f e c t upon Vaughan. I t provided the signpost to Vaughan's l a t e n t powers, both poetic and s p i r i t u a l d i r e c t i n g him to h i s true s e l f . Apart from h i s reading of The Temple, Vaughan's years of i l l n e s s l e f t a decided mark upon him. So too, d i d h i s reading 1 M ( I I ) , p.447. 2 M ( I I ) , p.522. 3 M ( I I ) , p. 451. 4 Translated by Edmund Blunden, On the Poems of Henry Vaughan London, Richard Cobden-Sanderson, 1927, p.9. 5 M ( I I ) , p.434. 85 of Holy Scripture. "Thou wert the f i r s t put in my hand," he writes speaking of the i n i t i a l influence he received from the Scriptures as "that f i r s t light gained from thee." In his poem "To the Holy Bible," he t e l l s us: By this milde art of love at length Thou overcamst my sinful strength, And having brought me home, didst there Show me that pearl I sought elsewhere. 1 Lines such as these leave l i t t l e doubt as to the Awakening ex-perienced by Vaughan. Judging from his poetry, it was no grad-ual conversion; there is evidence, rather, of some profound ex-perience that brought a changed outlook, and a concentrated re-solve. "For between 1647 and 1650," says Miss White, "Vaughan took a new path, experienced something that resulted in an awakening of powers hitherto not apparent, and the release of a store of energy that in a few years found an expression quite 2 unparalleled in a l l the remaining years of his l i f e . " Vaughan's description of the Awakening of his inner self is found in these lovely lines from his poem "Mount of Olives": When f i r s t I saw true beauty, and thy Joys Active as light, and calm without a l l noise Shin'd on my soul, I felt through a l l my powr's Such a rich air of sweets, as Evening showrs Fand by a gentle gale Convey and breath On some parch'd bank, crown'd with a flowrie wreath; Odors, and Myrrh, and balm in one rich floud 0'r-ran my heart, and spirited my bloud, My thoughts did swim in Comforts, and mine eie Confest, The world did only paint and l i e . 5 As a consequence of his Enlightenment, Vaughan came to look upon 1 M (II) , P-541. 2 White, Metaphysical Poets., p.272. 5 M (II), p.476. 86. the world as " g l o r i o u s deceptions, gilded m i s t s , f a l s e j o y s , 1 phantastic f l i g h t s . " And he looked away from the f a l s e glamour of the world to the glory of a world that does not fade: Elowres gathered i n t h i s world, die here; i f thou Wouldst have a wreath that fades not, l e t them grow, And grow f o r thee; who spares them here, s h a l l f i n d A Garland, where comes n e i t h e r r a i n , now wind. 2 Vaughan's Awakening, may, I b e l i e v e , be considered a t r u l y mystic Awakening; i t was a very r e a l event, one of which be was f u l l y aware, one that a l t e r e d h i s outlook and changed h i s l i f e . God reached out of E t e r n i t y and spoke to him i n time. "Tor I t i l l 3 drawn came not to thee," he writes In his poem, "The Agreement," acknowledging that the wind of God's grace v/hich bloweth where i t l i s t e t h , had begun i t s work i n him. Lord, since thou d i d s t i n t h i s v i l e Clay That sacred Ray Thy s p i r i t p l a n t , quickning the whole.... 4 he w r i t e s i n "Repentance", and i n s i m i l a r v e i n , i n his Dedic-a t i o n to h i s poems, he says: Some drops of thy a l l -quickning blood E e l l on my h e a r t . . . . 5 "The Garland" contains a dramatic a l l u s i o n to h i s awakening from a " f a l s e l i f e , a f o i l and no more" to a l i f e that was a " f i x ' d d i s c e r n i n g l i g h t " : 6 1 M ( I I ) , p.492. 2 "The Garland", M ( I l ) , p.493-3 M ( I I ) , p.530. 4 M ( I I ) , p.448. 5 M ( I I ) , p.394. 6 M ( I I ) , p.538. 87. ...At the height of t h i s Care i r e I met with a dead man.... 1 There i s much specul a t i o n as to the i d e n t i t y of t h i s "dead man"; many c r i t i c s believe the reference Is t o C h r i s t . At any r a t e , we know that as a consequence of t h i s meeting, Vaughan turned t o -wards C h r i s t . In h i s Preface to S i l e x S c i n t i l l a n s , he i l l u s t r a t e s h i s awareness of the o b l i g a t i o n s i m p l i c i t i n h i s awakening, of the necessity of p u t t i n g o f f the old man and of p u t t i n g on the new: I t i s true indeed, that to give up our thoughts to pious Themes and Contemplations...is a great step towards perfect ion; because I t w i l l r e f i n e , and dispose to devotion and s a n c t i t y . And f u r t h e r , i t w i l l procure f o r us (so e a s i l y communicable i s that l o v i n g s p i r i t ) some small p r e l l b a t l o n of those heavenly refreshments, which descend but seldom, and then very s p a r i n g l y , upon men of an ordinary or i n d i f f e r e n t holyness; but he that desires to excel i n t h i s kinde of Hagiography, or holy w r i t i n g , must s t r i v e (by a l l means) f o r p e r f e c t i o n and true holyness, that a door may be opened to him In heaven.... and then he w i l l be able to w r i t e (with...holy Herbert) a true Hymn. 2 Not only d i d Vaughan seek to compose a holy hymn, he sought also to re-order h i s l i f e : we f i n d i n him the authentic t h i r s t of the mystic f o r the p e r f e c t i n g of the s e l f i n order that he might seek and f i n d God: Sweet Jesul w i l l then; Let no more This Leper haunt, and soyl thy door, Cure him, Ease him 0 release himJ And l e t once more by mystick b i r t h The Lord of l i f e be borne i n E a r t h . 3 His prayer is that God w i l l be unto him the bread of l i f e to 1 2 3 M ( I I ) , P-493-M ( I I ) , pp.391-392. " C h r i s t ' s N a t i v i t y " , M ( I I ) , p.442. 8 8 . strengthen him in his pilgrimage towards heaven.1 "Make my soul to thirst for thee, and my flesh to long after thee. At what time soever thou shalt awake me from this bodily sleep; awake also'my soul in me, make thy morning-star to arise in my heart, and l e t thy spirit blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof 2 may flow out." In order to come to God, the self must be made whole. A steady heart, holiness and purity of l i f e must be realized for, says Vaughan in the "Mount of Olives," "without holiness no man 3 shall see the face of God." Souls sojourn here, but not rest; Who w i l l ascend, must be undrest. 4 With the awakening of the self comes acute awareness of sin, and a sense of remorse over time and energy wasted. Vaughan turns upon h i s former "Idle Verse" addressing i t disdainfully: Go, go, queint fol i e s , sugred sin, Shadow no more my door; I wil l no longer Cobwebs spin, I'm too much on the score. 5 The v e i l of his own sin separates him from the presence of God. "Onely this veyle which thou hast broke," he says to Christ, And must be broken yet in me, This veyle, I say, is a l l the cloke And cloud which shadows thee from me. 6 1 "Mount of Olives," M(I), p.163. 2 Ibid., p.153. 3 Ibid., p.159. 4 M(II), p.482. 5 M(II), p.446. 6 "Cock Crowing," M(II), p.489. 39 Even in his joyous poem "Christ's Nativity", his i n i t i a l praise of the Saviour's glory turns to thoughts of his own worthlessness; I would I had in my best part Fit Eoomes for thee! or that my heart Were so clean as Thy manger was I But I am a l l f i l t h , and obscene, Yet, i f thou wilt, thou canst make clean. 1 These thoughts are echoed in this humble and beautiful prayer from the "Mount of Olives": 0 Jesus Christ, the lover and the redeemer of a l l humble and penitent souls! Thou that feedest among the Lil i e s u n t i l l the day breaks and the shadows flee, what is there in my heart where only tares and thistles grow, that thou canst feed upon? He condemns himself for his inconstancy and his lack of devotion: 3 "sadly loose, and stray, a giddy blast each way" he i s . In "Lovesick", he pleads: ...at thy presence make these mountains flow, These mountains of cold Ice in me! 4 In "Miserie", he petitions: Open my rockie heart, and f i l It with obedience to thy wil, Then seal i t up, that as none see, So none may enter there but thee. 5 He sees clearly the extent of his own sin and worthlessness but he turns from i t to the saving grace of Christ. But as shades set off l i g h t , so tears and grief (Though of themselves but a sad blubber'd story) 1 M ( I I ) , p.442. 2 M(I), p.l6l. 3 M(II), 432. 4 M(II), p.493. 5 M(II), p.474. 90 By showing the sin great, shew the relief Far greater, and so speak my Saviour's glory. 1 and he prays: 0 my dear God I my l i f e , my love I Most blessed Lamb I and mildest dove! Forgive your penitent Offender, And no more his sins remember, Scatter these shades of death and give Light to my soul, that i t may live; Cut me not off for my transgressions, Wilful rebellions, and suppressions, But give them in those streams a part Whose spring is in my Saviours heart. 2 The poignancy and bitterness of Herbert's self analysis Is missing in Vaughan. But although his consciousness of spiritual failure is not so penetrating and personal as Herbert's, i t is nevertheless real and intense for he was a poet who strove in earnest for a "true practick piety" in order that a door might be opened to him in heaven. Vaughan differs from Herbert in the attitude he adopts toward his suffering, however: whereas Herbert sought to escape from his agony, Vaughan shows acceptance of i t , recognizing within i t a means of purification. Give me, 0 give me Crosses here. S t i l l more afflictions lend, That p i l l , though bitter, is most deare That brings health in the end.... 3 Vaughan strikes- this note of acceptance time and again throughout his poetry. "Prepare, prepare me then, 0 God I" he begs, And let me now begin To feele my loving fathers Rod Killing the man of sinne J 4 1 M (II), p.498. 2 M (II), p.449. 3 M (II), p.403. 4 "Day of judgement", M(II), p.403. 91 Very often, in the accounts of the mystics, we find illness and physical suffering associated with purgation and self cleansing. Vaughan frequently reiterates this idea in his prose and in his verse: Sickness is wholsome, and Grosses are but curbs To check the mule, unruly man.... 1 In the "Mount of Olives", he writes: Thou gavest me health, and I took no notice of thy gift....For what end soever thou hast sent this present sicknesse, whether for my dissolution, or for a temporal correction of ray sinful l i f e , grant I beseech thee, that both may be for thy glory, and the salvation of my poore soule. He recognizes that only through suffering and sorrow does the soul learn its necessary discipline and he thanks God: Blest be thy Dew, and blest thy frost, And happy I to be so crost, And cur'd by Crosses at thy cost. 3 He realizes how necessary to the soul's growth affliction i s : Were a l l the year one constant Sun-shine, wee Should have no flowres, A l l would be drought, and leanness; not a tree Would make us bowres.... Thus doth God Key disorderTd man (Which none else can,) Turning his brest to ri s e , or f a l l ; And by a sacred, needfull art Like strings, stretch evr'y part Making the whole most Musicall. 4 God's rod serves through "change of frosts and showres"^ to cherish and to bind the powers of the individual soul. In his 1 "Affliction," M(II), p.459• 2 M (I), pp.188-189. 3 "Love, and Discipline," M(II), p.464. 4 "Affliction," M(II), p.460. 3 M (II), p.4,59. 92. acceptance of a f f l i c t i o n and i n h i s acknowledgement of i t s pur-pose, "Vaughan i l l u s t r a t e s the p o s i t i v e and healthy a t t i t u d e of the mys t i c . " I f the mule man despise the day," he wri t e s i n h i s poem " D i s c i p l i n e " , Put chains of darkness i n h i s way, Teach him how deep, how various are The Gouncels of thy love and care. 1 With a s p i r i t of calm and acceptance, he writes i n " A f f l i c t i o n , " Peace, peace, i t i s not so. Thou dost m i s c a l l Thy physick; P i l s that change Thy s i c k Accessions into s e t l e d h e a l t h , This i s the great E l i x i r that turns g a l l To wine, and sweetness; Poverty to wealth, And brings man home, when he doth range. 2 But God's love i s Inseparable from his chastisement. This i s shown i n "The Agreement," when he w r i t e s : And t h i s I hourly f i n d e ; f o r thou Dost s t i l l renew, and purge and he a l : Thy care and l o v e , which j o y n t l y flow New C o r d i a l s , new Cathartics d e a l . • 3 L i k e St .John of the Cross, who w r i t e s : 0 burn that burns to h e a l , 0 more than pleasant wound J And 0 s o f t hand, touch most d e l i c a t e That dost new l i f e reveal That dost In grace abound And s l a y i n g doth form death to l i f e t r a n s l a t e . 4 5 Vaughan sees i n the f i r e of a f f l i c t i o n the "Refiner's f i r e . " I t i s only through God that man can be transformed: 1 M ( I I ) , p.641. 2 M ( I I ) , p.459. 3 M ( I I ) , p.530. 4 The L i v i n g Flame,, quoted by Itra t - H u s a i n , The Metaphysical Poets, p.21 ?. 3 "Ascension-Hymn," M ( I I ) , p.483. 93. Hee alone And none else can Bring bone to bone And rebuild man, And by his a l l subduing might Make clay ascend more quick then l i g h t . 1 Like Herbert, Vaughan finds in the sacraments of the Church the means of purification and self simplification. The blessings"they offer are twofold: they show man the Way to God while at the same time they are the Divine Food which sustains him In his quest. The mystery and the miracle of the Eucharist cause him to exclaim: 0 rose of SharonI 0 the L i l l y Of the valley J How art thou now, thy flock to keep, Become both food, and Shepheard to thy sheep. 2 They show to him his own wounds, How dost thou flye And search and pry Through a l l my parts, and like a quick And knowing lamp Hunt out each damp, Whose shadow makes me sad or sick? 3 providing him, at the same time, with the salve that heals: ...sweet, and sacred feast... Dead I was, and deep in trouble; But grace, and blessings came v/ith thee so r i f e . . . 4 One of Vaughan's loveliest expressions of the healing powers of the Sacraments is to be found in his poem "Dressing," where he addresses the Presence of the Saviour in the Sacraments: *f hou 0 that love st a pure, and whit end soul J That feedest among the L i l l i e s , ' t i l l the day 1 Loc. c i t . 2 "The Holy Communion," M (II), p.438. 3 "The Feast," M (II), p.335. 4 "The Holy Communion," M (II), p.457-94 Break, and the shadows flee; touch with one Coal My frozen heart; and with thy secret key Open my desolate rooms, my gloomie Brest With thy cleer f i r e refine, burning to dust These dark Confusions, that within me nest, And soyl thy Temple with a sinful rust.... Give to thy wretched one Thy mysticall Communion, That, absent, he may see, Live, die, and rise with thee .. .. 1 2 "Get then this sap, and get good store of i t " , is his cry, but the vessel that receives it must be pure. To receive God's "powerful, rare dew", Which only grief and love extract; ...Be sure, and never miss, To wash your vessel wel: Then humbly take This balm for souls that ake, And one who drank it thus, assures that you Shal find a Joy so true.... 3 The taking of the Sacraments requires a most exquisite and sin-cere preparation:^ The soul must be sick of love, she must long for the banqueting house, nothing now must appear but flowers, nothing must be heard but the singing of birds and the voice of the Turtle. 5 As in Herbert, there is in vaughan a deep sense of sin and a deep consciousness of imperfection. It is d i f f i c u l t , nevertheless, in spite of the presence of these feelings, to t e l l how complete Vaughan's purgation was . Although his poetry may be considered, for the most part, a record of his spiritual growth, 1 M (11), p.433. 2 "The Sap ," M (II), p. 473. 3 Ibid., p.476. 4 "Mount of Olives", M (I), p.153. 5 "Mount of Olives", M (I), p.156. 95. i t is not so revealing as Herbert's for generally, i t is not so autobiographical. Vaughan was a wide reader, an avid searcher after truth, seeking i t in many and varied channels. His trans-lations alone reveal how diversified his interests were. He was truly the devout humanist, with a love of learning which took him to the writings of the Church Fathers, the early Latin writers, the Hermetists, the Platonists, and various other sources of learning. His poetry reflects a l l these. There is in Vaughan, nevertheless, a singlemindedness of effort that is missing in Herbert: judging from his poetry, there seems to be a steadier growth of the spi r i t and a more definite sense of progression. The quality of Vaughan's experience, however, is another thing: I feel that though Herbert did not progress so far in achieving a sense of harmony in his poetry and in his l i f e , the quality of his spiritual l i f e was richer. There is an indefinable fibre in Herbert's spiritual constitution that commands our respect and admiration. Such a conclusion i s , however, necessarily arbitrary; in the f i n a l analysis, i t is the l i f e , not merely the work of the poet that is significant from the viewpoint of mysticism. The poet's work, at best, can only be a signpost, although, as we already know from Herbert's case, i t can prove invaluable in enabling us to form a picture of the poet. Unfortunately we know l i t t l e about Vaughan's l i f e : there is no biography such as Walton's to attest or to deny his sanctity. Miss Ashton's biog-raphy, The Swan of Usk, delightful as it i s , is highly roman-ticised and unfortunately not reliable: i t is not always easy to distinguish between fact and fabrication. We know, however, that Vaughan's later years were not particularly happy ones from the ?6. viewpoint of h i s domestic r e l a t i o n s ; he was embroiled i n d i s t a s t e -f u l and unfortunate lawsuits with h i s eldest son and daughter, lawsu i t s which caused him great g r i e f . Vaughan h i m s e l f , however, has spoken of the "joy so 1 t r u e " to be found In God a f t e r the s e l f has become p u r i f i e d . Indeed., many of his poems record such transports of joy but I th i n k that a guide t o the extent of Vaughan's purgation i s to be found i n the extent of the illuminated v i s i o n he enjoyed. For the transformation of the s e l f and i t s Illuminated i n s i g h t i s as complete as the cleansing of the s e l f that has preceded i t : "the exal t a t ion of the soul i s proportionate to i t s previous hum-i l i a t i o n s . "2 That VaughanTs purgation was not complete, i n the f u l l m y stical sense, i s shown, I b e l i e v e , by the Incompleteness, indeed, the very nature of h i s I l l u m i n a t i o n . I t i s not always p o s s i b l e , moreover, to say whether Vaughan*s moments of intense joy belong to the period of I l l u m i n a t i o n or to that of Purgation, f o r the period of purgation may frequently be interspersed with moments of intense j o y . The poem which introduces 5 i l e x S c i n -t i l l a n s i s c e r t a i n l y m y s t i c a l i n essence and suggests e i t h e r that Vaughan emerged from hi s s u f f e r i n g or at l e a s t that out of h i s s u f f e r i n g he came to know the wonder of God: Vain Wits and eyes Leave, and be wise: Abuse not, shun not holy f i r e , But w i t h true tears wash off your mire. Tears and these flames w i l l soon grow kinde, And mix an eye-salve f o r the hi i ride. Tears cleanse and supple without f a l l , And f i r e w i l l purge your callous v e y l . Then comes the l i g h t I which When you spy, 1 sup r a , p.94. 2 Zirmaerman, supra, Chap.I, p.26. 97 And see your nakedness thereby, Praise him, who dealt his gifts so free In tears to you, in fire to me. 1. This poem i s one of Vaughan1s most restrained from the view-point of the experience i t conveys: but there is a very real intensity of feeling behind the restraint, How autobiographical the poem i s , we cannot say, but i t certainly suggests that Vaughan had known "holy f i r e " and had come through i t to aporehend the light of God. There is l i t t l e in Vaughan, however, much less than there i s i n Herbert, to suggest the experience of the Dark Night of the Soul. We find despair at God's absence but this experience i s , of course, one that i s in no way confined to the mystic: a l l who seek to l i v e , however falteringly, the l i f e of the s p i r i t , know moments of bleakness and despair in the face of God's seeming absence. In "The Seed growing secretly", Vaughan ex-presses his loss beautifully and endearingly: "My dew, my dew," he addresses God, "my early love, My soul's bright food, thy absence k i l l s , "2 and In "Begging," he implores: Dear LordJ restore thy ancient peace, Thy quickning friendship, mans bright wealth.' And i f thou wilt not give me ease From sicknesse, give my spirit health] 3 Much of Vaughan's despair is linked with the persecution of the Church under the Puritan regime. For in spite of his research in the realm of the occult, Vaughan was a true Anglican and he suffered greatly under the confining yoke of the Puritans. Consequently, his own darkness was often closely allied with that of the Shurch. 1 M (II), p.396. 2 M (II), p.510. 3 M (II), P.501. 98 He asks God to resume His spirit from "this world of thrall into true l i b e r t y . "1 In "The Bee," God is absent because his true Church is oppressed: Then since corrupt man hath driv'n hence Thy kind and saving Influence, And Balm Is no more to be had In a l l the Coasts of Gilead.... 2 In "The Bird," he writes: The Turtle then in Palm-trees mourns, While Owls and Satyrs howl; The pleasant Land to brimstone turns And a l l her streams grow foul. 3 He cries to God for deliverance from the darkness into which his Church and country have been plunged: Lord I grant some Light to us, that we May with them find" the way to thee. Behold what mists ,eel ipse the day: How dark it i s l shed down one Ray To guide us out of this sad night, And say once more, Let there be Light. 4 Vaughan 's own darkness generally embraces the emotions of doubt and despair, feelings which are common to a l l those who seek to follow Christ: 0 t e l l me whence that joy doth spring Whose diet is divine and f a i r , Which wears heaven, like a bridal ring, And tramples on doubts and despair? 5 One of his most poetic renderings of his despair at God's absence and his subsequent joy at His presence is this from his "Mount of Olives": 1 "They are a l l gone into the world of light," M (II), p.484, 2 M ( I I ) , p.634. 3 M (II), p.497-4 "The Nativity," M( I I ) , p.646. 3 "The Queer," M (II), p.339. 99. As long as thou a r t present w i t h me, I am i n the l i g h t , hut when thou a r t gone, I am i n the shadows of death, and amongst the stones of emptinesse. When thou art p r e s e n t , a l l i s brightnesse, a l l i s sweetnesse, I am i n my God's bosome, I discourse w i t h him, watch with him, l i v e w i t h him, and l i e down with him. A l l these most dear and umaeasurable blessings I have w i t h thee, and want them without thee. Abide then w i t h me, 0 thou whom my soul l o v e t h l Thou Sun of righteousness with heal-ing under thy wings a r i s e i n my heart; r e f i n e , quicken, and cherish i t ; make thy l i g h t there to shine i n darknesse, and a perfect day i n the dead of n i g h t . 1 Vaughan emerges from h i s s u f f e r i n g w i t h a s i n g u l a r peacefulness and a note of radiance. But just as h i s s u f f e r i n g i s not the acute experience of the mystic, n e i t h e r does h i s subsequent ex-perience match i t . St.John of the Cross has expressed i n ex-q u i s i t e poetry the f e e l i n g s of the soul which has endured the deep anguish of the Dark Night and then comes to know God's love i n a l l i t s f u l l n e s s : A l l things I then f o r g o t , try cheek on Eim who -for my coming came, A l l ceased, and I was n o t , Leaving my cares and shame Among the l i l i e s , and f o r g e t t i n g them. ' 2 As Professor Husain has pointed out i n h i s book on the meta-ph y s i c a l poets, i t i s not w i t h i n Vaughan's own experience to 3 say " a l l ceased and I was not." Although Vaughan describes the state of the s o u l i n the b l i s s of Union, he does not suggest that the experience was h i s own: i t is Dionysius he echoes i n h i s poem "The Night"; There i s i n God (some say) A deep, but d a z l i n g darkness; As men here Say i t i s l a t e and dusky, because they See not a l l c l e a r . . . . 1 M ( I ) , p.151. 2 "The Dark Night of the Soul," p.l82. 3 The Metaphysical Poets, p. 231. Wot only do his two words in parenthesis indicate that he him-self did not experience the dazzling dark, but these lines which follow: 0 for that night I where I in him Might live Invisible and dim. 1 likewise indicate this. In "Regeneration," the f i r s t poem i n Silex Scintillans, and one which signifies to many readers a symbolic representation of Vaughan's journey on the Mystic Way, Vaughan concludes: Lord, ... On me one breath, And let me dye before my death I 2 signifying the aspiration if not the accomplishment of the mystic. There is frequent evidence, however, that Vaughan knew during his lifetime, a very real and deep peace, a peace of which he spoke: 0 supreme Bliss I The Circle, Center and Abyss Of blessings.... 3 One of his loveliest poems is "The Revival". Here, we come near, I believe, to the peace and joy of the mystic in Illumination. It is d i f f i c u l t to say with any degree of finality to what stage Vaughan's l i f e of the spirit had progressed. But the note that he strikes In th is poem assures us that he knew deep spiritual happiness: Unfold, unfold I take in his light, Who makes thy Cares more short than night. The Joys, which with his Day-star rise, 1 M (H), p.523. 2 M (II), P-399-3 "The World," p.651. 101. He deals to a l l , but drowsy Eyes: And what the men of this world miss, Some drops and dews of future b l i s s . Hark! how his winds have chang'd their note, And with warm whispers call thee out. The frosts are past, the storms are gone: And backward l i f e at last comes on. The lofty groves in express Joyes Reply unto the Turtles voice, And here in dust and d i r t , 0 here The L i l i e s of his love appear I l It is here, and in poems like this, that we find the clearest picture of Vaughan's spiritual achievement. I do not believe it is the f u l l , rich experience that we as so ciate with the mystic in Illumination. But, nevertheless, the mood struck by this poem, the sense of joyous calm and serenity, is in its e l f no mean achievement. It is in poems like this that Vaughan comes closest to the mystics; not In those poems which are gener-ally accepted as mystical, such, for Instance as his poem "The World," which begins magnificently: "I saw Eternity the other night like a great Ring of pure and endless light...." This statement, and others like It, are more full y understood by studying two things in Vaughan's poetry: the presence of nature and the imagery he uses. To study these two things, i t wil l be necessary to deal with, the various elements in his l i f e and learning that elucidate his treatment of nature and reveal the source of his imagery. Then we may judge in what light this statement and others like it may be considered. Vaughan was born at Newton-on-Usk in the county of Breconshire in Southern Wales, a region noted for i t s fe r t i l e valleys and its high, picturesque mountains. Except for the years he spent at Oxford and those spent in the army during the 1 M (II), p. 643. 102. C i v i l War, Vaughan l i v e d always i n Breconshire. He was happiest amid the pleasures and beauties of r u r a l l i f e ; the influence of Herbert and the impact of the C i v i l War had served only to heighten h i s love of retirement. His r e l i g i o u s ideas may be said to have come to f r u i t i o n as a r e s u l t of h i s constant and close a s s o c i a t i o n with the sights and sounds of nature, which h e l d f o r him a profound s p i r i t u a l message. Several influences combine to give us a complete p i c -ture of Vaughan's a t t i t u d e to nature, however, and not the l e a s t of these was the influence of h i s brother Thomas. Although we know comparatively l i t t l e of Henry's l i f e at Oxford, we le a r n from the information he imparted to Anthony a Wood f o r h i s com-p i l a t i o n of Athenae Oxonlenses that he himself f i r s t undertook the study of law, t u r n i n g at some l a t e r date t o medicine. A l -though there i s no record of his having obtained a degree i n e i t h e r of these s t u d i e s , he practised medicine f o r the greater part of h i s l i f e i n and around the countryside where he was born. In a l e t t e r to Aubrey, he wrote, "My profession a l l s o i s ph y s i c , which I have p r a c t i s e d now f o r many years w i t h good successe (I thank God J) and a repute b i g enough for a person of greater parts 1 than ray s e l f e." Henry's brother, Thomas, remained at Oxford, and from Henry's vague account to Wood, we l e a r n that he may have ob-tained h i s Master's Degree th e r e . Thomas studied d i v i n i t y , r e -maining i n the Church u n t i l he was ousted from h i s benefice by the puritans i n l6p~0. The l a c k of c e r t a i n t y i n Henry's account of Thomas suggested that the brothers d r i f t e d apart In t h e i r l a t e r y e a r s . Their e a r l y l i f e , however, was spent i n close companionship. 1 M (ID, p.668. That they shared interests and ideas is evident from the parallels to be found in their respective writings. In each, to name only a few of their common sources, there are echoes of Dionysius, Hermes Trismegistus, the Kabbala, Plato and the Heo-Platonists. Their greatest common interest, however, was Hermetic philosophy. We do not know when Thomas' f i r s t turned to this branch of study but it became his ruling interest after his eviction from his l i v i n g . Although Henry in "The Vanity of Spirit" writes: 1 summon'd nature: pierc'd through a l l her store, Broke up some seales, which none had touch'd before.... 1 it is doubtful whether his study in Hermetic science was so extensive as that of Thomas who spent many years in his search for the philosopher's stone. Henry's interest in Hermetic med-icine is evidenced by his translation of Nollius' treatise on "Hermetical Physick." And his general knowledge of Herpetics is shown in his frequent use of Hermetic terminology and imagery in his poetry, among which we find such alchemical and astrological terms as signature, influence, attraction, magnetism, v i t a l , ele-ment , ray, stone, elexir, and tincture. Especially where these words are capitalized or italicized in his poetry do they have Hermetic significance. The influence of Thomas' writings upon Henry's poetry is seen, too, in some of the poetic renderings he gives to certain passages from Thomas' works, as in his poem "Gock-Crowingn, beginning, Father of lights I what Sunnie seed, What glance of day hast thou confin'd Into this bird? To a l l the breed This busie Ray thou has assign'!; Their magnetisme works a l l night, And dreams of Paradise and light.... 1 M (II), p.418. 104. continuing in the third verse: If such a tincture, such a touch, So firm a longing can. impowre Shall thy own Image think i t much To watch for thy appearing hour...? 1 The entire poem parallels the thought to be found in one of Thomas' works which begins: The Soule, though in some sense active, yet is not so essentially, but a mere instrument a l l agent, for she is guided in her operations by a Spirituall Metaphysicall G-raine, a Seed or Glance of Light, simple and without any mixture, descending from the f i r s t Father of Lights.... 2 In spite of their interest in Hermetic science, both Henry and Thomas acknowledge their primary debt to God. They were devout Christians and each considered himself a loyal adherent of the Church of England. The greatest single influence to be found in Henry Vaughan's poetry is that of the Authorized Version. Thomas, on the other hand, claims that his next debt is to Cornelius Agrippa, sixteenth century Hermetic philosopher. The influence of the devout humanism of the Counter-Reformat ion is s e e n in the writings of both men, a l l of which show a predeliction for the more abstruse portions of religious literature. In Henry Vaughan's poetry, for example, we find many echoes of the imagery of the Song of Solomon and of the Book of Revelations. The influence of the f i r s t of these i s , of course, common to much mystical literature; the Book of Revelations was, on the other hand, much studied by the Hermetists. Several of Henry Vaughan's poems show how he assimilated Hermetic ideas in such a way that they har-1 M (II), p.488 . 2 Quoted bv Wilson 0. Clough, "Henry Vaughan and the Hermetic Philosophy," PEA, XLVII1, (December, 1933) , p.,1117» 105. monlzed w i t h h i s basic C h r i s t i a n b e l i e f s . A verse from Revel-ations (Chap. 2:17): To him that overcometh w i l I give to eate of the hidden Manna, and I w i l give him a white stone, and i n the stone a new name w r i t t e n , which no man knoweth, saving he that r e c e i v e t h i t . 1 i s echoed i n h i s poem "PL S c r i p t u r e , " In thee the hidden stone, the Manna l i e s , Thou a r t the great E l i x i r , r a r e , and Choice; The Key that opens to a l l Mysteries, The Word i n Characters, God i n the Voice. 2 C h r i s t Is frequently likened to the philosopher's stone: He i s the means by which the baser metal of man's lower s e l f Is t r a n s -muted to the pure gold of h i s higher s e l f . The stone s i g n i f i e d to Vaughan the e a r t h l y image of the heavenly C h r i s t . I t i s true that Hermetic science possessed i t s more b i z a r r e aspects i n i t s a c t i v i t i e s d e a l i n g with occult experimentation but w i t h i n i t , t o o , there was a very deep core of s p i r i t u a l i t y . I t h i n k Evelyn U n d e r h i l l has expressed, with her usual penetration, the essen-t i a l d i f f e r e n c e between the paths Henry and Thomas Vaughan took when she says:' The s t a r t i n g point of a l l magic, and of a l l magical r e l i g i o n - the best and purest of occult a c t i v i t i e s -I s , as i n mysticism, man's Inextinguishable conviction that there are other planes of being than those which hi s senses report to him; and i t s proceedings represent the i n t e l l e c t u a l and i n d i v i d u a l i s t i c r e s u l t s of t h i s c o n v i c t i o n - h i s craving f o r the hidden knowledge. 3 Miss- Ashton's po r t r a y a l of Thomas Vaughan i n The Swan of Usk as "very w i l d i n h i s speech, always angry, always d i s s a t i s f i e d " , 1 M ( I I ) , p.469-2 M ( I I ) , p.441. 3 U n d e r h i l l , Mysticism, p.151. 4 Helen Ashton, The Swan of Usk, Hew York, Macmillan Co. ,p,290 . 106. a man whose alchemical ventures were completely divorced from the s p i r i t u a l , i s , I b e l i e v e , quite i n c o r r e c t . His own w r i t i n g s reveal a deep s p i r i t u a l i t y and a sense of wonder and h u m i l i t y i n the face of God's omniscience. His works are not simply the out-put of an i n q u i r i n g mind, as Miss Ashton would have us b e l i e v e , but are the works of a man who, although he sought truths along obscure and devious paths,, possessed a profoundly r e l i g i o u s nature. In the f i n a l a n a l y s i s , magic and mysticism i l l u s t r a t e two d i f f e r e n t but abiding passions of the s e l f , the desire to love and the desire to know.1 The l i m i t a t i o n s of occultism are i m p l i c i t i n t h i s statement when we remember: He may not be known by reason, He may not be gotten by thought, nor conditioned by understanding; but He may be loved and chosen with the true l o v e l y w i l l of thine heart.... 2 Henry Vaughan's eventual awareness of the l i m i t a t i o n s of occultism i s seen i n his poem "The Search" when he says, "Leave, l e a v e , thy gadding thoughts,...." To rack old Elements Or Dust and say Sure here he must needs stay Is not the way, nor j u s t . Search w e l l another world; who studies t h i s . Travels i n Clouds, seeks Manna, where none i s . 3 and In , ;Vanity of S p i r i t , " he faces these l i m i t a t i o n s again by d e c l a r i n g ; 1 I t r a t - H u s a i n , The Metaphysical Poets, p.244. 2 supra, Chap.I, p.4. 3 M (II) , p. 40 7. 107. Since In these veyls my E c c l i p s ' d Eye May not approach thee, (for at night Who can have commerce w i t h the l i g h t ? ) I ' l e d i s a p p a r e l l , and to buy But one h a l f glaunce, most gladly dye. 1 In "The Ass," w i t h true h u m i l i t y , he turns to God w i t h the p e t -i t i o n : Let me thy Ass be onely wise To carry, not search mysteries; Who c a r r i e s thee, Is by thee lead , Who argues, f o l l o w s h i s own head. 2 Vaughan knew the bond between the v i s i b l e and. the i n v i s i b l e world was attained through holiness and was found i n love: Sure holyness the Magnet i s , And Love the Lure, that woos thee down. 3 and he asks: Teach both mine eyes and feet to move Within these bounds set by thy l o v e . . . . 4 I t has been maintained that Vaughan's best poetry i s that which Is e n t i r e l y free from Hermetic i n f l u e n c e . This s t a t e -ment, i s t r u e , i n i t s narrow sense, i f we take i t to r e f e r to obvious influences such as terminology and, i n some cases, imagery. I t i s i n c o r r e c t , I f e e l , however, i n i t s wider i m p l i c a t i o n s . Vaughan's greatest poems are those that possess a c e r t a i n f u s i o n of the c e l e s t i a l with- the t e r r e s t r i a l : a f u s i o n which i l l u s t r a t e s i n s u b t l e , deeper f a s h i o n , the more abiding and s i g n i f i c a n t i n -fluence of Hermetic thought, poems which capture what Thomas 5 Vaughan spoke of as "the mysterious k i s s of God i n Nature." 1 M (II),.p.419. 2 M ( I I ) , p.518. 3 "The queer," M ( I I ) , p.559' 4 op. c i t . , l o c . c i t . 5 M.M. Mahood,Poetry and Humanism, London, Gape, 1950,p.283. 108. JOT Vaughan's i n t e r e s t i n Hermetics i s shown very strongly i n h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of nature. His b e l i e f , f o r instance, that a d e f i n i t e commerce existed between the things of heaven and the things of e a r t h , stems from Paracelsus' theory of correspondence which maintained that everything i n the t e r r e s t r i a l world had i t s p a r a l l e l i n the c e l e s t i a l and the i n t e l l e c t u a l worlds.1 Thus f o l l o w s h i s idea that man could apprehend things heavenly by contemplatIng the creatures of t h i s e a r t h . There Is no suggestion i n Vaughan of a progression from earth to heaven In the P l a t o n i c sense; r a t h e r , l i k e the Hermetists, Vaughan saw the influence of the heavens descending upon the earth and the earth joyously 2 acknowledging t h e i r power. He found i n nature an e s s e n t i a l u n i -f y i n g s p i r i t , a manifestation of one mighty di v i n e lav/; a concept I l l u s t r a t e d i n h i s poem "The Morning-Watch," In what Rings, And Hymning C i r c u l a t i o n s the quick world Awakes, and sings; The r i s i n g winds, And f a l l i n g s p rings, B i r d s , beast, a l l things Adore him i n t h e i r k i n d s . Thus a l l i s hurl'd In sacred Hymnes, and Order, The great Chime And Symphony of nature. 3 Vaughan believed that each created t h i n g possessed a t i n c t u r e or spark of d i v i n i t y ; not only man but a l l created things strove f o r p e r f e c t i o n and sought union with.the d i v i n e . In the sense of 1 R.H. Walters, '"Henry Vaughan and the Alchemists," Review of E n g l i s h Studies, 21111, ( A p r i l , 1947- ),p.ll8. 2 White, Metaphysical Poets, p.291-3 M ( I I ) , p.424. harmony exhibited by the things of nature, he f e l t man could l e a r n moral and s p i r i t u a l lessons: A l l things here shew him heaven; Waters that f a l l Chide, and f l y up; Mists of corruptest fome quit t h e i r f i r s t beds & mount; t r e e s , herbs, f l o w r e s , a l l S t r i v e upwards s t i l , and point the way home. 1 In "The C o n s t e l l a t i o n , " he turns from h i s observation of i t s "calm and wel-trained f l i g h t " to God, p e t i t i o n i n g Him t o : S e t t l e , and f i x our hearts, that we may move In order, peace, and l o v e , And taught obedience by thy whole Creation, Become an hurable, holy n a t i o n . 2 For h i m s e l f , he asks that i n the "Masques and shadows" of nature he miglit see God's "sacred way": And by those hid ascents climb to that day Which breaks from thee Who a r t i n a l l t h i n g s , though I n v i s i b l y . . . . 3 To l e a r n the lessons of nature, however, man must be i n close harmony w i t h the things of nature and so he admonishes: Walk w i t h thy f e l l o w - c r e a t u r e : note the hush And whispers amongst them. There's not a Spring, Or Leafe but hath his Morning-hymn; each Bus (hJ And Oak doth know I AM 4 Vaughan was not a pa n t h e i s t , however; he did not see God i n nature but rather he saw nature i n God. "Fresh l i l i e s and woods, the earth's f a i r face" was "God's f o o t s t o o l and man's dwelling-place." Nature was simply a manifestation of God's div i n e s p i r i t ; I t was the v i s u a l language of God, by means of which we apprehend 1 M ( I I ) , p.461. 2 M ( I I ) , p.470. 3 " I walk'd the other day," M ( I I ) , P.479. 4 "Rules and Lessons," M ( I I ) , p.436. 5 "Ret ireraen t , " M ( I I ) , p. 642. 110 His presence. Contemplating a rainbow, Vaughan says: When I behold thee, though my l i g h t be dim, Dis t a n t and low, I can i n thine see him, Who looks'Upon thee from h i s throne, And minds the covenant twixt A l l and One. 1 showing how he was able to spy i n the "weaker g l o r i e s " of nature 2 "some shadows of e t e r n i t y . " He apprehended God Immanent through His Holy S p i r i t which dwells i n a l l t h i n g s ; God Transcendent e x i s t e d apart as the Divine Source of a l l t h i n g s . In the opening l i n e s of h i s poem "Retirement," he recognizes both aspects of God's nature, i n the magnifIcence of His Transcendence and i n the beauty of His Immanence: Who on yon throne of Azure s i t s , Keeping close house Above the morning-starre, Whose meaner showes, And outward u t e n s i l s these g l o r i e s are That shine and share Part of his mansion.... J Though Vaughan f e l t the presence of the Divine S p i r i t i n nature, he knew that the complete v i s i o n of God was not to be apprehended i n the g l o r i e s of c r e a t i o n . In h i s poem, "The W a t e r f a l l , " he w r i t e s : What sublime t r u t h s , and wholesome themes, Lodge in'thy m y s t i c a l , deep streams! Such as d u l l man can never finde • Unless that S p i r i t lead h i s minde, Which f i r s t upon thy face did move, And hatch'd a l l with his quickning love, As t h i s loud brooks incessant f a l l In streaming r i n g s re stagnates a l l , Which reach by course the bank, and then Are no more seen, j u s t so pass men. 0 my i n v i s i b l e e state, 1 "The Rainbow," M ( I I ) , p. 510,. 2 "The Ret re ate," M ( l l ) , ?..519« 3 M ( I I ) , p.462. XXI • My glorious l i b e r t y , s t i l l l a t e J Thou a r t the Channel ray soul seeks, Not t h i s with Cataracts and Creeks. 1 There i s no suggestion of basking i n the joys and beauties of c r e a t i o n . Vaughan recognized c l e a r l y the .. . l i t t l e gate And narrow way, by which to thee, The Passage i s . 2 and formulates h i s prayer: 0 feed me then! and since I may Have yet more days, more nights t o Count, So strengthen me, Lord, a l l the way, That I may t r a v e l to thy Mount. 3 In the f i n a l a n a l y s i s , i t was the orthodox way of the Church that gave Vaughan h i s greatest devotional and s p i r i t u a l stimulus but we associate h i s r e l i g i o n with nature because he so frequently used nature to i l l u s t r a t e ideas e s s e n t i a l l y r e l i g i o u s . This r e l i a n c e on nature imagery i s i l l u s t r a t e d i n "The l e a s t " , i n which the mysteries of the Sacraments cause Vaughan to exclaim: 0 what high joys The Turtles voice And songs I hear I 0 quickning showers Of my Lords blood You make rocks bud And crown dry h i l l s with w e l l s & flowers I 4 and i n "The Incarnation and passion," i n which Vaughan expresses h i s awe at the magnitude of these two events: To put on Clouds Instead of l i g h t , And" cloath the morning -starre with dust, Was a t r a n s l a t i o n of such height As, but In thee, was ne'r exprest 5 1 M ( i i ) , p.538. 2 "Repentance," M ( I I ) , p.448. 3 "The Pilgrimage," M ( I I ) , p.465. 4 M ( I I ) , p.535. 3 M ( I I ) , p.413. 112 His most f e l i c i t o u s example Is that of his very l o v e l y and deeply s p i r i t u a l poem, "The Dawning," In which C h r i s t ' s second coming i s depicted In the imagery of Creation: Ah I what time w i l t thou come? when s h a l l that er i e The Bri.de groocae ' s CommlngI f I I the sky? S h a l l i t I n the Evening run When our words and works are done? Or w i l thy a l l - s u r p r i z i n g l i g h t Break at midnight? When e i t h e r aleep, or some dark pleasure Posses seth mad man without measure; Or s h a l these e a r l y , fragrant hours Unlock thy bowres? And w i t h t h e i r blush of l i g h t descry Thy locks crown'd with e t e r n i t i e ; Indeed, i t i s the only time That w i t h thy glory doth best chime, A l l now are s t i r r i n g , ev'ry f i e l d I'ul hymns doth y i e l d , The whole Creation shakes o f f n i g h t , And f o r thy shadow looks the l i g h t , Stars now vanish without number, Sleeple Planets s e t , and slumber, The pursie Clouds disband, and s c a t t e r , A l l expect some sudden matter, Hot one beam triumphs, but from f a r That morning-star..,. 1 Rarely i n Vaughan do we f i n d minute d e t a i l s of nature; i t was the vaster aspects of cre a t i o n that engaged him: the spaciousness of the firmament and the mystery of i t s measured round. The r o l e played by nature In his poetry i s r e a l l y two-f o l d , s t r e t c h i n g out In two d i s t i n c t d i r e c t i o n s . The contem-p l a t i o n of nature frequently gives r i s e to some of h i s profoundest thoughts, such, f o r instance, as those i n the poem which begins with the l o v e l y image: "They have a l l gone into the world of l i g h t and I alone s i t l i n g e r i n g here." The second d i r e c t i o n which nature took i n h i s poetry i s i l l u s t r a t e d by the language of t h i s poem, through his use of nature imagery. Ideas that are i n no way 1 M ( I I ) , pp.451-452. 113. r e l a t e d to nature are clothed In the imagery of nature i n such a way that the substance of the idea i s brought home with a p a r -t i c u l a r c l a r i t y . Such i s the case when he l i k e n s Sundays to "The milky way Chalkt out with Suns."1 i n another poem he des-cribes h i s brooding contemplation: I t glows and g l i t t e r s i n my cloudy b r e s t , L i k e s t a r s upon some gloomy grove, Or those f a i n t beams i n which t h i s h i l l i s d r e s t , A f t e r the Sun's remove. 2 Vaughan's a t t i t u d e to nature may be considered as the sum of a l l his b e l i e f s while at the same time i t provided the framework by which a l l h i s b e l i e f s became u n i f i e d . This i s I l l u s t r a t e d In h i s themes that deal with childhood. To Vaughan, childhood was the symbol of innocence and p u r i t y , the "age of mysteries" which he thought op? n o s t a l g i c a l l y as: / Dear harmless age.I ...Where love without l u s t dwells, and bends What way we please, without s e l f - e n d s . 3 He believed man's c e l e s t i a l nature was closest to God i n his days of "ange 11 -infancy." Thus f o r Vaughan childhood becomes the symbol of a l l things pure: of mankind i n h i s Innocence before the F a l l ; of the Church i n the days of the p r i m i t i v e C h r i s t i a n s . A l l h i s ideas concerning childhood are telescoped into t h i s image when he l i k e n s mornings t o: Mysteries, the f i r s t world's Youth Mans Resurrection.... 4 Ideas that are e s s e n t i a l l y orthodox l i n k w i t h themes of childhood 1 "Son-Dayes," M ( I I ) , p.448. -2 "They are a l l gone into the world of l i g h t , " M ( I I ) , p.484. 3 "Childe-hood," M ( I I ) , p.521. 4 "Rules and Lessons," M ( I I ) , p.436. 114. that are Hermetic and Platonic in origin. This excerpt from one of the Hermetical writings indicates one source of his ideas on childhood: Look at the soul of a child,...a soul that has not yet come to accept its separation from its source; for its body is s t i l l small, and has not yet grown to its f u l l hulk. How beautiful throughout is such a soul as that I It is not yet fould by the bodily passions; i t is s t i l l hardly detached from the soul of the Kosraos. 1 Frequently Vaughan expresses in his poetry a sense of regret over ths loss of the Innocence and purity of his childhood state. In his poem, "Childe-hood," he says: I cannot reach i t ; and my striving eye Dazles at i t , as at eternity. 2 His spiritual aspirations are closely linked with his whole con-cept of childhood: he desires to be born again, to regain the simplicity of his childhood, in order that he may be near to God once more as he was in his childhood days. For he knows that he: Must live twice, that would Gods face see....3 His fullest and most felicitous expression of nostalgia for the joys of childhood is to be found in his poem "The Retreate." The poem is short and bears reprinting in its entirety not only for its expression of this nostalgia but also because i t illustrates much of what is essentially Vaughan both as poet and as man: Happy those early dayes I when I Shin'd in my Angell-infancy. Before I understood this place 1 Libellus X, Herniet ica, quoted by R.H. Walters,"Henry Vaughan and the Alchemists," Review of English Studies, ZXIIIXipril,194% p.116. 2 M (II), p.320. 3 M (II), p.521. 115. Appointed f o r my second race, Or taught my soul to fancy ought But a white, C e l e s t i a l 1 thought, When yet I had not wallet above A m i l e , or two, from my f i r s t l o v e , And l o o k i n g back (at that short space,) Could see a glimpse of h i s br i g h t - f a c e ; When on some gilded Cloud, or f1owre My gazing soul would dwell an houre, And i n those weaker g l o r i e s spy Some shadows of e t e r n i t y ; Before I taught my tongue to wound My Conscience with a s i n f u l l sound, Or had the black a r t to dispence A s e v ' r a i l sinne to ev'ry sence, But f e l t through a l l t h i s f l e s h l y dresce Bright shootes of everlastingnesse. 0 how I long t o t r a v e l l back And tread again that ancient track1 That I might once more reach that o l a i n e , Where f i r s t I l e f t my glorious t r a i n e , Prom whence t h ' Inlightned s p i r i t sees That shady Ci t y of Palme t r e e s ; But (ahl) my soul w i t h too much stay Is drunk, and staggers i n the way. Some men a forward mot ion 1ove, But I by backward steps would move, And when t h i s dust f a l Is t o the urn In that state I came r e t u r n , 1 The theme of t h i s poem i s simple but Vaughan's utterance of I t l i f t s i t into realms almost magical i n t h e i r power of suggestion; through phrases such as "white c e l e s t i a l thought," " g i l d e d cloud," "shadows of e t e r n i t y " , and "bright shootes of everlastingnesse." There i s a translucent q u a l i t y i n Vaughan's imagery that lends to h i s poetry an other-world qu a l i t y and i t i s obtained, to a great extent, through h i s treatment of l i g h t w i t h i n the frame-work of h i s nature imagery. This q u a l i t y i s i l l u s t r a t e d superbly In his poem "Disorder and F r a i l t y " when he p e t i t i o n s : ... give wings to my f i r e , And hatch my s o u l , u n t i l i t f l y Up where thou a r t , amongst thy t i r e Of S t a r s , above I n f i r m i t y . . . . 2 1 M. (II) ,pp. 4-18-?. 2 M. ( I I ) , p.446. 116 The symbolism of light is common to most mystical literature; indeed, i t is generally accepted as the classical description of Illumination. Vaughan was very likely familiar with some of i t s most famous examples: that of Dante in the final canto of the Paradiso: and that of St. Augustine in his Confessions. It i s possible, too, that he had read Boehme's vivid description of Illumination in the language of light. The poems in which Vaughan uses light imagery most successfully, however, are not those based on spiritual experience. Generally they arise out of philosophic contemplations. The two outstanding examples are "The World," beginning "I saw Eternity the other night...." and the poem beg-inning "They are a l l gone into the world of light," .each of which opens beautifully. In the latter poem, light forms the core of a metaphysical conceit as In the lines: If a star were confin'd into a Tomb Her captive flames must needs burn there; But when the hand that lockt her up, gives room, She'l shine through a l l the sphaere. 1 and illustrates the Hermetic influence in Vaughan's use of light imagery. The Hermetic philosophers looked upon light as the source of l i f e and as a consequence i t s imagery i s found fre-quently in their writings. The phrase "Bright shootes of ever-lastingnesse" from Vaughan's poem "The Retreate" is distinctly Hermetic in origin: the second word, shootes, being common to their literature. Other Hermetic terms which Vaughan uses fre-quently are white, ray and beam. The word white possesses par-ticular significance because of i t s rich connotations in Vaughan's native Welsh: i t s Welsh form gwyn signifies not only white but 1 M (II), P>8b, 117. also f a i r , happy, holy, blessed and innocent. Its meaning in some of Vaughan's loveliest and most arresting phrases becomes greatly enhanced as a consequence of i t s Welsh connotations: as in the phrases "white celestial thought," the "white days of p r i -meval innocence", and the "white winged reapers." It is not' imagery in i t s e l f , however, that determines whether or not a poet is mystical but the experience behind the imagery. Those of Vaughan's poems that are generally considered mystical are, in reality, not mystical at a l l but are visionary. Their source and their inspiration stem from Vaughan's illum-inated vision of the world, a vision obtained through intermittent gleams of perception by means of which he pierced to the heart of things: And yet, as Angels in some brighter dreams Call to the soul, when man doth sleep: So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted theams, And into glory peep. 1 These lines, and others like them illustrate what Professor Dow-den has described as "the incalculable beams and irradiations of the soul." They leave us l i t t l e doubt regarding the actual fact of illumination experienced by Vaughan. But the nature of his illumination i s another thing. It was the consequence, not of his mystical growth but of his poetic vision: his insight was intuitive i t was not the flowering of a mystical s p i r i t . This conclusion i s , I believe, born out by the contexts in which his visionary per-ceptions occur. Onee again, by way of example, I refer to the 1 M. (II), p.484. 2 Dowden, Puritan and Anglican, p.121. two poems l i s t e d above" both of which begin with rare f l a s h e s of i n s i g h t . V/hat f o l l o w s the opening "They are a l l gone into the world of l i g h t " forms one of the most poetic musings on the mysteries of death to be found i n our l i t e r a t u r e but In no sense does i t convey experience that may be considered m y s t i c a l . "The World" which opens: I saw S t e r i l i t y the other night L i k e a great r i n g of pure endless l i g h t . A l l cal.m as i t was b r i g h t ; And round beneath i t , Time i n hours, daya, years, Driven by the spheres, L i k e a vast shadow moved, i n which the world And a l l her t r a i n were hurled..,. 2 i s " f o r the most part a melancholy p i c t u r e of earth bound, deluded man." Except f o r the ending which embraces both the symbolism and the substance of mystical experience, (This Ring the Bride-groome d i d f o r none provide But" for_ the bride.) the l i n e s that f o l l o w the opening l i n e s of mystery and wonder are, by co n t r a s t , s i n g u l a r l y prosaic and u n i n s p i r e d . In s p i t e of the v i s i o n embraced i n the opening l i n e s of the poem, the sub-stance of the poem i s not m y s t i c a l . Vaughan has been described as a " b e a u t i f u l but uneven 4 poet," and what i s true of him p o e t i c a l l y i s t r u e , I b e l i e v e , of him s p i r i t u a l l y ; f o r i n neither realm of experience does he i l l u s -t r a t e the culmination of his p o t e n t i a l i t i e s . The l i m i t a t i o n s that are found i n his verse r e f l e c t the l i m i t a t i o n s that are found In h i s s p i r i t u a l l i f e . The p o t e n t i a l i t y i s there, i t i s t rue, 1 "The World" and "They are a l l gone Into the world of l i g h t . ' 2 "The World", M. ( I I ) , p.466. 3 Bush, Seventeenth Century, p.147. 4 A.E. Waite, The Works of Thomas Vaughan, London Theosophical P u b l i s u i n g house, 1519, p.Viii.— ' ' 119. but somehow i t i s not f u l l y r e a l i z e d . Somewhere i n i t s develop-ment, I t loses i t s sense of d i r e c t i o n . Por he was content, claims Miss White, to walk the ways of t h i s world In wonder rather than forsake a l l i n the passion of the mystic and to concentrate on 1 the s p i r i t u a l labours of the Mystic Way. The i l l u m i n a t i o n of the poet asserts i t s e l f : the slow and p a i n f u l process by which the mystic achieves h i s v i s i o n of the divine gives way to the poet who rests s a t i s f i e d w i t h a d i v i n e l y i l l u m i n a t e d world of s e l f ; he does 2 not press on to the v i s i o n of God. In vaughan's illu m i n a t e d v i s i o n of the universe, nevertheless, he frequently apprehended the Divine even although he did not comprehend as the mystic does. He p i e r c e d , on occasion, as poets have r a r e l y done before or sin c e , the very s ecret of the universe, i n t e r c e p t i n g stray mess-ages between the outer mystery of the universe and the inner mys-3 t e r y of the i n d i v i d u a l s o u l , but he conducted these messages through the medium of h i s poetry, rather than, as the mystic does, through the medium of his l i f e . Although h i s ' a spirations i n the realm of the sp i r i t were e s s e n t i a l l y m y s t i c a l , i t i s not f o r h i s s p i r i t u a l endeavour that he i s remembered to-day; rather he i s remembered f o r the v i s i o n of the universe he has captured with such s u b l i m i t y i n h i s poetry. And f o r the beauty of h i s v i s i o n we can o f f e r no more f i t t i n g t r i b u t e than t h i s of S i e g f r i e d Sassoon's: 1 White, Metaphysical Poets, p.306. 2 E.II.S. Thompson, "Mysticism i n Seventeenth-Century English L i t e r a t u r e , " Studies i n P h i l o l o g y . XVTII, 1921, p.212. 3 S i r Arthur Quiller-Couch, Studies i n L i t e r a t u r e , Cambridge, U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1920, p.126. ~~ 120. At the Grave of Henry Vaughan. Above the v o i c e f u l windings of a r i v e r An old green slab of simply graven stone Shuns n o t i c e , overshadowed by a yew. Here Vaughan l i e s dead, whose name flows on f o r ever Through pastures of the s p i r i t washed w i t h dew And s t a r l i t w i t h e t e r n i t i e s unknown. Here sleeps the S i l u r l s t ; the loved physician; The face that l e f t no p o r t r a i t u r e behind; The s k u l l that housed white angels and had v i s i o n Of daybreak through the gateways of the mind. Here f a i t h and mercy, wisdom and humility (Whose influence s h a l l p r e v a i l f o r evermore) Shine. And t h i s lowly grave t e l l s Heaven's t r a n q u i l l i t y And here stand I , a suppliant at the door. 1 1 S i e g f r i e d Sassoon, "At the Grave of Henry Vaughan," from •t ts Journey, quoted by Hutchinson, Henry Vaughan, p.242. C H A P T E R What Is true of the metaphysical poets as a group i s true of Herbert and Vaughan: i n s p i t e of the points of reference that indisputably l i n k them together, they possess differences and divergences from these points of reference that serve only to increase our appreciation of them both as poets and as men. In no other period of English l i t e r a t u r e do we f i n d a group which comprises such a d i s t i n c t unit: not only are they linked together by an adherence, however d i v e r s i f i e d i n i t s manifestations, to an a r t i s t i c convention, but they are l i n k e d together also by a deep devotion to a r e l i g i o u s I d e a l , Within these two areas of exper-ience, the a r t i s t i c and the s p i r i t u a l , v;-.-< h:,v^, i n s p i t e of a predominating acceptance of Anglo-Catho] Ic t r a d i t i o n s i n the l a t t a range of endeavour that c l o s e l y r e f l e c t s the varying trends of the century. I f I were to choose any s i n g l e f i g u r e of the group as representative of the century as a whole, my choice, would of course be John Donne, who, i n s p i t e of the f a c t that he appears e a r l i e s t i n the century, epitomizes through hi s Janus-like char-a c t e r i s t i c s , the upheaval of ideas which we associate with the seventeenth century. On the one hand, he looks back to the Renaissance w i t h i t s deep roots i n c l a s s i c a l l e a r n i n g and In medieval t r a d i t i o n ; on the other, he heralds the approaching age of reason with its emphasis on rationed Ism and experimentation. I t i s only r i g h t to say, however, that to a greater or l e s s e r degree, a l l the metaphysical poets r e f l e c t the developments of the period; t h i s , i n s p i t e of the f a c t that they are r e l i g i o u s uoets. For al.though the l i f e of the s p i r i t i s e s s e n t i a l l y the same regardless of the point i n time at which i t occurs, never-122. t l i e l e s s , a r t which deals w i t h the s p i r i t u a l l i f e cannot f a i l t o c a r r y , as a l l art does, the mark of the age i n which the a r t i s t l i v e s . This f a c t i s i l l u s t r a t e d f o r us by the work both of Her-bert and of Vaughan, p a r t i c u l a r l y by the work of the l a t t e r , whose poetry frequently i l l u s t r a t e s the e c l e c t i c i s m of h i s l e a r n i n g . Certain cosmological concepts which f i r s t came into prominence during the period of the Renaissance are echoed time and again i n the works of the metaphysical poets. One such concept i s that of the "great chain of being" which embraced the idea of an h i e r a r c h a l order descending from God through the angels to mankind, thence extending to l i f e In a l l i t s manifes-t a t i o n s , even t o each plant and stone. A l l l e v e l s of existence were seen to exemplify one great harmony, a concept which receives repeated expression i n the poetry of Vaughan. His whole approach to nature was deeply Influenced by his b e l i e f i n a concept of order throughout c r e a t i o n . In Herbert, t h i s concept of order i s not so e x p l i c i t as i t i s i n Vaughan but, nevertheless, a sense of order was I m p l i c i t i n everything he wrote and i n everything he d i d , f o r order was the keynote of h i s l i f e both as a r t i s t and as Anglican d i v i n e . Turning more s p e c i f i c a l l y to both the l i v e s and the works of Herbert and Vaughan, we f i n d many i n t e r e s t i n g and s i g -n i f i c a n t contrasts and comparisons. Each exhibited the character-i s t i c s of h i s Welsh heritage in a c e r t a i n fierceness of temperament and i n t e n s i t y of p r i d e . They are l i n k e d most strongly together, however, by the dedication of themselves i n the realm of art and in the realm of the s p i r i t to the greater glory of God: each attempted not only to b r i n g his l i f e i n t o harmony wi t h God but 123. each sought also to record h i s attempt through the medium of his a r t . For each poet, the channel through which his s p i r i t u a l a s p i r a t i o n s sought and found expression was that of the orthodox Church. In n e i t h e r man was there ever any question as to the Tightness of the p o s i t i o n of the Church to which he belonged. Although i t i s true that Vaughan c r i t i c i s e d b i t t e r l y the P u r i t a n regime, l i k e Herbert, he did not enter into t h e o l o g i c a l disputes i n v o l v i n g the doctrines of the Church, These both Heibert and Vaughan accepted without question or q u a l i f i c a t i o n , Against t h i s common background of the Church, however, t h e i r worship sought separate channels of expression. Herbert's r e l i g i o n found f u l l expression w i t h i n the Church. The needed d i s c i p l i n e f o r h i s unruly, v a c c i n a t i n g nature was supplied f o r him through her devotions. S i m i l a r l y , i n his w r i t i n g s , the d i s c i p l i n e that enabled h i s a r t i s t i c powers to achieve t h e i r f u l l e s t expression came through a s t r i c t adherence to form. This i s the paradox of Herbert both s p i r i t u a l l y and a r t i s t i c a l l y : only through the seeming r e s t r i c t i o n s of form did he come t o know his f u l l e s t freedom of s e l f expression and of s e l f r e a l i z a t i o n . The l i f e l i v e d and the poetry w r i t t e n are remarkable because of Her-bert 's s i n g u l a r a b i l i t y to encompass great Intensity of f e e l i n g w i t h i n r i g i d l i m i t a t i o n s of form, both poetic and devotional. Vaughan d i f f e r s considerably from Herbert. Like Herbert, he s a t i s f i e s the demands of the s p i r i t by a l i f e of retirement, Herbert's retirement, however, meant the taking of Holy Orders and as a consequence brought h i s l i f e much closer to the Church than I t had formerly been. The Church, i n f a c t , became his l i f e . This i s not true to the same extent of Vaughan. He always remained 124. devoted to the Church he l o y a l l y supported through the dark days of the P u r i t a n regime and there i s l i t t l e doubt that subsequent to h i s retirement h i s rule of l i f e became much s t r i c t e r . But the Church d i d not play the c e n t r a l r o l e i n his worship that i t did f o r Herbert* Vaughan *s retirement meant a closer and dearer contact w i t h nature, a contact by means of which the b e l i e f s of the Chirrch became deepened and s a n c t i f i e d . The scope of Herbert's r e l i g i o u s struggle Involved only himself; but beoans? he is the a r t i s t he I s , he has captured i n h i s own p a r t i c u l a r experience the substance of un i v e r s a l experience. As a consequence, hi s poems have been read devotedly by those who, l i k e him, have sought to brin g t h e i r own l i v e s Into a clo s e r communion with G-od. Vaughan 7s r e l i g i o u s experience i s not so e x p l i c i t as Herbert Ps and I t i s never so intensely personal; where Herbert agonizes, Vaughan contemplates. The supreme mystery of r e l i g i o n was symbolized f o r Herbert by the a l t a r : I t represented to him through the miracle of the Eucharist the perpetual entrance of God Incarnate into time and space. I t was God Immanent, G-od revealed i n the l i t t l e homely d e t a i l s of the d a i l y round Whom Herbert knew and loved. But It was In tho spaciousness of the firmament rather than at the steps of the a l t a r that Vaughan>s worship found i t s f u l l e s t expression. I t was God Transcendent, revealed In the measured round of the universe. Whom Vaughan apprehended, however f l e e t -i n g l y . But h i s v i s i o n of the universe remained only a v i s i o n ; he came no closer to R e a l i t y . And as Miss U n d e r h i l l has w r i t t e n , ...we do not c a l l every one who has these p a r t i a l and a r t i s t i c i n t u i t i o n s of r e a l i t y a mystic, any more than we c a l l every-one a musician who has learnt to play the piano. The true 125. mystic Is the person i n whom such powers transoent the merely a r t i s t i c and vi s i o n a r y stage, and are exalted to the point of genius: i n whom the transcendental con-sciousness can dominate the normal consciousness, and who has d e f i n i t e l y surrendered himself to the embrace of i i e a l i t y . As a r t i s t s stand i n a pe c u l i a r r e l a t i o n to the phenomenal world, r e c e i v i n g rhythms and discovering truths and beauties which are hidden from, other men, so t h i s true mystic stands i n a p e c u l i a r r e l a t i o n to the transcendental world.... His mysticism i s no Isolated v i s i o n , no f u g i t i v e glimpse of r e a l i t y , but a complete system of l i f e carrying• i t s own guarantees and o b l i g a t i o n s . 1 We cannot assess the s p i r i t u a l i t y of Vaughan's l i f e to the extent that we can Herbert's because we possess no biography such as that of Walton's; n e i t h e r do we possess f i r s t hand reports of him as we do of Herbert. The mark at which he aimed i s clear from hi s own w r i t i n g s , nevertheless, p a r t i c u l a r l y from his prose work, The Mount of O l i v e s . Yaughan was not a prominent f i g u r e i n his own day, It i s t r u e , but he was not i n s i g n i f i c a n t and I cannot help f e e l i n g that I f he had achieved a high degree of s a n c t i t y such as Herbert had, we should have heard of h i s achievement. T h i s , I r e a l i z e , i s sheer conjecture on my p a r t , but I think t h a t , under the circumstances, i t Is sound. On the other hand, I do not doubt f o r an instant that Yaughan was a good and holy man i n the f u l l sense of these words. Ho man could have w r i t t e n The Mount of Olives who was not ho l y . But the degree of holiness which he achieved was not so great as that of Herbert. I do not however, wish t o compare Herbert and Yaughan because I f e e l that any attempt to do so i s u n r e a l i s t i c and quite f u t i l e . So much depends on the contexts of i n d i v i d u a l circumstance and temperament, which colour the l i f e of the s p i r i t . To l i f t Instances from t h e i r contexts and to seek to compare them involves so many q u a l i f i c a t i o n s that 1 U n d e r h i l l , Mysticism, pp. 75-76-126. any- such comparison loses meaning. I do not consider, however, that e i t h e r Herbert or Vaughan can be considered mystics, i n the f u l l sense of the term as I have o u t l i n e d i t . My reasons f o r t h i s conclusion are, of course, embodied w i t h i n the separate chapters on these two poets. I f e e l , nevertheless, that t h e i r a s p i r a t i o n s were e s s e n t i a l l y m y s t i c a l i n that they sought to f o l l o w C h r i s t . I do not think f o r a moment that e i t h e r of them ever set out consciously to be mystics: such an a t t i t u d e seems l a c k i n g i n s p i r i t u a l h u m i l i t y . One cannot w i l l to achieve the summits of the s p i r i t u a l l i f e ; one begins simply by l o v i n g . The element of the w i l l i s , of course, of supreme importance to the development of the l i f e of the s p i r i t but so, too, i s that of grace over which the i n d i v i d u a l has no c o n t r o l . Nevertheless, i n t h e i r fervent desire to bring t h e i r l i v e s i n t o harmony with God and i n t h e i r constant search f o r His Presence, Herbert and Vaughan resemble the mystics. That t h e i r quest d i d not reach the f u l f i l l m e n t that i t does i n the mystic does not detract In any way from the beauty and n o b i l i t y of t h e i r aim. Their separate achievements provide us with s i g n -posts that point to the f u l l y developed l i f e of the mystic. In the l i f e of consecration found i n Herbert and i n the illuminated v i s i o n of the world given t o us by Vaughan, we are confronted with complementary aspects of the mystic l i f e as a whole. The substance of t h e i r s p i r i t u a l a s p i r a t i o n i s i m p l i c i t i n these words of Jaques Mar i t a i m "No one comes so near the i n v i s i b l e world as the sage and the poet, unless i t be the saint -- who i s but one s p i r i t with God, and so i n f i n i t e l y c l o s e r to Him than anyone."1 The magnitude 1 Jacques Mar I t a i n , quoted by Oscar Williams, ed., Introduction to A L i t t l e Treasury of Modern Poetry, New York, Scribner's Sons, 1946, p.41. ~ of t h e i r c o n t r i b u t i o n as poets Is l i k e w i s e caught by him when he says, "Though i n themselves of no help to the attainment of ete r n a l l i f e , a r t and poetry are more necessary than bread t o the human race. They f i t i t f o r the l i f e of the s p i r i t . "1 1 I b i d . , p . 4-2 . 128 BIBLIOGRAPHY" Adams, Henry, Saint Mont. Michel and Chartres, Boston, Houghton M i f f l i n Co., 1933, Ashton, Helen, The Swan of Usk, Hew York, Macmillan Co., 1940. 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