Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE TIMBER, by HENRY VAUGHAN



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THE TIMBER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Sure thou didst flourish once! And many springs
Last Line: Dirt in her way, will keep above the sky.
Alternate Author Name(s): Silurist
Subject(s): Decay; Trees; Rot; Decadence


Sure thou didst flourish once! and many springs,
Many bright mornings, much dew, many showers
Passed o'er thy head; many light hearts and wings,
Which now are dead, lodged in thy living bowers.

And still a new succession sings and flies;
Fresh groves grow up, and their green branches shoot
Toward 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 murdered man, when lovely life is done
And his blood freezed, keeps in the center still
Some secret sense, which makes the dead blood run
At his approach, that did the body kill.

And is there any murderer worse than sin?
Or any storms more foul than a lewd life?
Or what resentment can work more within
Than true remorse, when with past sins at strife?

He that hath left life's vain joys and vain care,
And truly hates to be detained 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 ceased
From sin, he walks a narrow, private way;
Yet grief and old wounds make him sore displeased,
And all his life a rainy, weeping day.

For though he would 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
(Though of themselves but a sad blubbered 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 water love;
These upper strings, 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.




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