Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, REPENTANCE, by HENRY VAUGHAN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

REPENTANCE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Lord, since thou didst in this vile clay
Last Line: And through his merits, make thy mercy mine!
Alternate Author Name(s): Silurist
Subject(s): Repentance; Penitence

Lord, since thou didst in this vile clay
That sacred ray
Thy spirit plant, quick'ning the whole
With that one grain's infused wealth,
My forward flesh creeped on, and subtly stole
Both growth and power; checking the health
And heat of thine: that little gate
And narrow way, by which to thee
The passage is, he termed a grate
And entrance to captivity;
Thy laws but nets, where some small birds
(And those but seldom too) were caught,
Thy Promises but empty words
Which none but children heard, or taught.
This I believed: and though a friend
Came oft from far, and whispered, No;
Yet that not sorting to my end
I wholly listened to my foe.
Wherefore, pierced through with grief, my sad
Seduced soul sighs up to thee,
To thee who with true light art clad
And seest all things just as they be.
Look from thy throne upon this roll
Of heavy sins, my high transgressions,
Which I confess with all my soul,
My God, accept of my confession.
It was last day
(Touched with the guilt of my own way)
I sate alone, and taking up
The bitter cup,
Through all thy fair and various store
Sought out what might outvie my score.
The blades of grass, thy Creatures feeding,
The trees, their leafs; the flowers, their seeding;
The dust, of which I am a part,
The stones much softer than my heart,
The drops of rain, the sighs of wind,
The stars to which I am stark blind,
The dew thy herbs drink up by night,
The beams they warm them at i' th' light,
All that have signature or life,
I summoned to decide this strife,
And lest I should lack for arrears,
A spring ran by, I told her tears,
But when these came unto the scale,
My sins alone outweighed them all.
O my dear God! my life, my love!
Most blessed lamb! and mildest dove!
Forgive your penitent offender,
And no more his sins remember,
Scatter these shades of death, and give
Light to my soul, that it may live;
Cut me not off for my transgressions,
Wilful rebellions, and suppressions,
But give them in those streams a part
Whose spring is in my Saviour's heart.
Lord, I confess the heinous score,
And pray, I may do so no more;
Though then all sinners I exceed
O think on this; Thy Son did bleed;
O call to mind his wounds, his woes,
His Agony, and bloody throes;
Then look on all that thou hast made,
And mark how they do fail and fade,
The heavens themselves, though fair and bright,
Are dark and unclean in thy sight,
How then, with thee, can man be holy
Who dost thine angels charge with folly?
O what am I, that I should breed
Figs on a thorn, flowers on a weed!
I am the gourd of sin and sorrow
Growing o'er night, and gone tomorrow;
In all this round of life and death
Nothing's more vile than is my breath,
Profaneness on my tongue doth rest,
Defects and darkness in my breast,
Pollutions all my body wed,
And even my soul to thee is dead,
Only in him, on whom I feast,
Both soul and body are well dressed,
His pure perfection quits all score,
And fills the boxes of his poor;
He is the Centre of long life and light,
I am but finite, He is Infinite.
O let thy Justice then in him confine,
And through his merits, make thy mercy mine!

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