La chiave di Hiram by Christopher Knight, Robert Lomas

By Christopher Knight, Robert Lomas

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When Vaughan says in the preface that he is dedicating his “poor talent to the Church,” he quickly adds the important qualifier, “under the protection and conduct of her glorious Head,” meaning Jesus. This “church” is both everywhere and nowhere. It has no institutional place on earth, which does not mean it is without significance for Vaughan, only that the difference between the visible church and the faithful believers in Jesus is ceasing to matter to the poet. 32 OF PARADISE AND LIGHT Hence the characteristically forceful leap or “turn” in his poetry from nostalgia to apocalypse, leaving little or no middle way for fashion or play.

It has no institutional place on earth, which does not mean it is without significance for Vaughan, only that the difference between the visible church and the faithful believers in Jesus is ceasing to matter to the poet. 32 OF PARADISE AND LIGHT Hence the characteristically forceful leap or “turn” in his poetry from nostalgia to apocalypse, leaving little or no middle way for fashion or play. “I know the wayes of Pleasure, the sweet strains, / The lullings and the relishes of it,” a phrase from Herbert’s “The Pearl,” is not one Vaughan could have written (even in his courtly moments).

10 (sigs. 12–15,26–29) Herbert’s Breconshire disciple may well have felt that the preeminent poet of the Church of England was being slighted by the elevation of a nameless and mediocre imitator to a similarly “sublime” status. ” Talent must be united with the living faith and self-discipline that won for the Rector of Bemerton the reputation of a “blessed man”: It is true indeed, that to give up our thoughts to pious themes and contemplations (if it be done for piety’s sake) is a great step towards perfection; because it will refine, and dispose to devotion and sanctity.

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