The Timber

SURE thou didst flourish once ! and many springs,
    Many bright mornings, much dew, many showers
Pass’d o’er thy head ; many light hearts and wings,
    Which now are dead, lodg’d in thy living bowers.

And still a new succession sings and flies ;
    Fresh groves grow up, and their green branches shoot
Towards the old and still enduring skies,
    While the low violet thrives at their root.

But thou beneath the sad and heavy line
    Of death doth waste all senseless, cold, and dark ;
Where not so much as dreams of light may shine,
    Nor any thought of greenness, leaf, or bark.

And yet – as if some deep hate and dissent,
    Bred in thy growth betwixt high winds and thee,
Were still alive – thou dost great storms resent
    Before they come, and know’st how near they be.

Else all at rest thou liest, and the fierce breath
    Of tempests can no more disturb thy ease ;
But this thy strange resentment after death
    Means only those who broke – in life – thy peace.

So murther’d man, when lovely life is done,
    And his blood freez’d, keeps in the centre still
Aome secret sense, which makes the dead blood run
    At his approach that did the body kill.

And is there any murth’rer worse than sin ?
    Or any storms more foul than a lewd life ?
Or what resentient can work more within,
    Than true remorse, when with past sins at srife ?

He that hath left life’s vain joys and vain care,
    And truly hates to be detain’d on earth,
Hath got an house where many mansions are,
    And keeps his soul unto eternal mirth.

But though thus dead unto the world, and ceas’d
    From sin, he walks a narrow, private way ;
Yet grief and old wounds make him sore displeas’d
    And all his life a rainy, weeping day.

For though he should forsake the world, and live
    As mere a stranger, as men long since dead ;
Yet joy itself will make a right soul grieve
    To think he should be so long vainly led.

But as shades set off light, so tears and grief –
    Thought of themselves but a sad blubber’d story –
By showing the sin great, show the relief
    Far greater, and so speak my Saviour’s glory.

If my way lies through deserts and wild woods,
    Where all the land with scorching heat is curst ;
Better the pools should flow with rain and floods
    To fill my bottle, than I die with thirst.

Blest showers they are, and streams sent from above
    Begetting virgins where they use to flow ;
And trees of life no other waters love :
    These upper springs and none else make them grow.

But these chaste fountains flow not till we die :
    Some drops may fall before, but a clear spring
    And ever running, till we leave to fling
Dirt in her way, will keep above the sky

Henry Vaughan

Vaughan, Henry. The Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, Ed. London, Lawrence & Bullen Ltd., 1896. 209-211.