Henry Vaughan

1621-1695

 

Henry Vaughan is buried in the churchyard of St Bridget's Church, Llansantffraed, Powys, Wales. His tombstone is located outside the east wall of the church and bears a Latin inscription which he composed. The church,  located on the banks of the River Usk, was rebuilt in the 19th century.
 


 

Vaughan began writing secular poems but following a religious conversion turned his attention to devotional verse. He attributed his conversion largely to reading the work of George Herbert. In 1650 Vaughan published  his best known collection Silex Scintillans. This featured a mystical philosophy influenced by the hermeticism of his twin brother Thomas who was a philospher and a practicising alchemist.

On the title page of the collection Vaughan refers to himself as a 'Silurist' - a name taken from the Silures tribe who inhabited the Brecon Beacons at the time of the Roman invasion.

Vaughan married Catherine Wise with whom he had one son and three daughters. After his wife's death he married her sister Elizabeth who also bore him a son and three daughters.

In 1923 Siegfried Sassoon made a pilgrimage to Llansanffraed and while there wrote one of his most famous peacetime poems At the Grave of Henry Vaughan, which begins:

                      'Here sleeps the Silurist; the loved physician;
                       The face that left no portraiture behind;

Vaughan's most famous poems include : The Retreat, The World, The Waterfall and Man. His mystical view of nature influenced the work of William Wordsworth.

See also metaphysical poets.

I saw Eternity the other night
Like a great Ring of pure and endless light,
         All calm as it was bright;
And round beneath it, Time, in hours, days, years,
Driven by the spheres,
Like a vast shadow moved, in which the world
         And all her train were hurled.

From The World (complete poem)

Read Henry Vaughan's poetry

 

 


 

 

 
 
 
 

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