Treasure Island

Henry Vaughan

(1621 - 23 April 1695 / Brecknockshire, Wales)

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Friends Departed


They are all gone into the world of light!
And I alone sit ling'ring here;
Their very memory is fair and bright,
And my sad thoughts doth clear.

It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast,
Like stars upon some gloomy grove,
Or those faint beams in which this hill is drest
After the sun's remove.

I see them walking in an air of glory,
Whose light doth trample on my days:
My days, which are at best but dull and hoary,
Mere glimmering and decays.

O holy Hope! and high Humility,
High as the heavens above!
These are your walks, and you have show'd them me,
To kindle my cold love.

Dear, beauteous Death! the jewel of the Just,
Shining nowhere, but in the dark;
What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust,
Could man outlook that mark!

He that hath found some fledg'd bird's nest may know,
At first sight, if the bird be flown;
But what fair well or grove he sings in now,
That is to him unknown.

And yet as Angels in some brighter dreams
Call to the soul, when man doth sleep:
So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes,
And into glory peep.

If a star were confin'd into a tomb,
Her captive flames must needs burn there;
But when the hand that lock'd her up gives room,
She'll shine through all the sphere.

O Father of eternal life, and all
Created glories under Thee!
Resume Thy spirit from this world of thrall
Into true liberty.

Either disperse these mists, which blot and fill
My perspective still as they pass:
Or else remove me hence unto that hill,
Where I shall need no glass.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Comments about this poem (Friends Departed by Henry Vaughan )

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  • Kevin Straw (9/24/2012 11:29:00 AM)

    Sorry, old chap, it will never happen. But excellent poem, and the best hope you can hope for of immortality. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (9/24/2011 3:06:00 AM)

    After death friends have become Stars to shine in the Universe! A wonderful idea by Henry Vaughan captures our imagination to muse over many Stars in the Universe! Loss of friends in real life is difficult to digest; but the thought of Stars to be departed friends gives inspiration to shine so as days pass on in life! (Report) Reply

  • Char Pattrick (9/24/2009 6:44:00 PM)

    The way you piece it together makes it so easy to picture in your own mind and the use of your words lead the mind to think on smaller things as you try and focus on the bigger picture without actually distracting the mind from following the poem from beginning to end. Thoroughly enjoyed it and thank you for sharing! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • Ravi A (9/24/2009 2:04:00 PM)

    A wonderful poem. The death, the afterlife, the role of god and angels, the poet's prayers to god, his visions all speak volumes. The poet has actually transcended death by his spiritual wisdom. Instead of a turbulent heart, we can see enough contemplation and reflection. It has a pacifying effect. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Harmon (9/24/2009 12:59:00 PM)

    Whether one agrees, disagrees, or takes selective issue with (I must admit I am inadvertently amused by 'into glory peep') , Vaughan's poem, it would appear that his 'spiritual awakening' (see Biography) probably inspired this poem-with alternating iambic pentameter, tetrameter, pentameter, trimeter lines-and we are the richer for it. :) (Report) Reply

  • Guybrush Threepwood (9/24/2009 12:24:00 PM)

    Kevin Straw, I think that's a little silly to say that because he's introduced a part of himself into the poem that this immediately places it in the 'second rank' of poetry. The words are beautiful and the feelings ring true. Shouldn't that be all that matters?

    And would you say that the belief that the world is 'grim and forbidding' is something that's Christian? My understanding is that Christians believe the Earth was created by their God and as their God's creation is infused with His presence. I don't think it would make sense for them to believe that their own god's creation is 'grim and forbidding'.

    Besides, working under the auspice that that is a Christian belief, I hardly believe it to be one that is uniquely Christian. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (9/24/2009 5:56:00 AM)

    A beautifully-written poem with several heart-stopping lines, but I have come to the conclusion that poems which espouse a belief which the reader may not share are in the second rank of poetry. This poem assumes the Christian belief that this world is grim and forbidding, but heaven is a world of light. That assumption reduces its value for me. (Report) Reply

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