Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, RULES AND LESSONS, by HENRY VAUGHAN



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RULES AND LESSONS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When first thy eyes [eies] unveil, give thy soul leave
Last Line: For chains of darkness and eternal nights?
Alternate Author Name(s): Silurist
Subject(s): Religion; Theology


When first thy eyes unveil, give thy soul leave
To do the like; our bodies but forerun
The spirit's duty; true hearts spread and heave
Unto their God, as flow'rs do to the sun.
Give him thy first thoughts then; so shalt thou keep
Him company all day, and in him sleep.

Yet, never sleep the sun up; prayer should
Dawn with the day; there are set, awful hours
'Twixt heaven and us; the manna was not good
After sun-rising, far-day sullies flowers.
Rise to prevent the sun; sleep doth sins glut,
And heav'ns gate opens, when this world's is shut.

Walk with thy fellow-creatures: note the hush
And whispers amongst them. There's not a spring,
Or leaf but hath his morning-hymn; Each bush
And oak doth know IAM; canst thou not sing?
O leave thy cares and follies! go this way
And thou art sure to prosper all the day.

Serve God before the world; let him not go
Until thou hast a blessing, then resign
The whole unto him; and remember who
Prevailed by wrestling ere the sun did shine.
Pour oil upon the stones, weep for thy sin,
Then journey on, and have an eye to heav'n.

Mornings are mysteries; the first world's youth,
Man's Resurrection, and the future's bud
Shroud in their births: the Crown of life, light, truth
Is styled their star, the stone, and hidden food.
Three blessings wait upon them, two of which
Should move; they make us holy, happy, rich.

When the world's up, and ev'ry swarm abroad,
Keep thou thy temper, mix not with each clay;
Dispatch necessities, life hath a load
Which must be carried on, and safely may.
Yet keep those cares without thee, let the heart
Be God's alone, and choose the better part.

Through all thy actions, counsels, and discourse,
Let mildness and Religion guide thee out,
If truth be thine, what needs a brutish force?
But what's not good and just ne'er go about.
Wrong not thy conscience for a rotten stick,
That gain is dreadful, which makes spirits sick.

To God, thy Country, and thy friend be true,
If priest, and people change, keep thou thy ground.
Who sells Religion, is a Judas Jew,
And, oaths once broke, the soul cannot be sound.
The perjurer's a devil let loose: what can
Tie up his hands, that dares mock God and man?

Seek not the same steps with the crowd; stick thou
To thy sure trot; a constant, humble mind
Is both his own joy, and his Maker's too;
Let folly dust it on, or lag behind.
A sweet self-privacy in a right soul
Out-runs the Earth, and lines the utmost pole.

To all that seek thee, bear an open heart;
Make not thy breast a Labyrinth, or trap;
If trials come, this will make good thy part,
For honesty is safe, come what can hap;
It is the good man's feast; the prince of flowers
Which thrives in storms, and smells best after showers.

Seal not thy eyes up from the poor, but give
Proportion to their merits, and thy purse;
Thou may'st in rags a mighty Prince relieve
Who, when thy sins call for't, can fence a Curse.
Thou shalt not lose one mite. Though waters stray,
The bread we cast returns in fraughts one day.

Spend not an hour so, as to weep another,
For tears are not thine own; if thou giv'st words
Dash not thy friend, nor Heav'n; O smother
A vip'rous thought; some syllables are swords.
Unbitted tongues are in their penance double,
They shame their owners, and the hearers trouble.

Injure not modest blood, whose spirits rise
In judgement against lewdness; that's base wit
That voids but filth and stench. Hast thou no prize
But sickness or infection? stifle it.
Who makes his jests of sins, must be at least
If not a very devil, worse than a beast.

Yet, fly no friend, if he be such indeed,
But meet to quench his longings, and thy thirst;
Allow your joys Religion; that done, speed
And bring the same man back, thou wert at first.
Who so returns not, cannot pray aright,
But shuts his door, and leaves God out all night.

To heighten thy devotions, and keep low
All mutinous thoughts, what busines e'er thou hast
Observe God in his works; here fountains flow,
Birds sing, beasts feed, fish leap, and th' Earth stands fast;
Above are restless motions, running lights,
Vast circling azure, giddy clouds, days, nights.

When seasons change, then lay before thine eyes
His wondrous Method; mark the various scenes
In heav'n; hail, thunder, rainbows, snow, and ice,
Calms, tempests, light, and darkness by his means;
Thou canst not miss his praise; each tree, herb, flower
Are shadows of his wisdom and his pow'r.

To meals when thou dost come, give him the praise
Whose Arm supplied thee; take what may suffice,
And then be thankful; O admire his ways
Who fills the world's unemptied granaries!
A thankless feeder is a thief, his feast
A very robbery, and himself no guest.

High-noon thus past, thy time decays; provide
Thee other thoughts; away with friends and mirth;
The sun now stoops, and hastes his beams to hide
Under the dark and melancholy Earth.
All but preludes thy End. Thou art the man
Whose rise, height, and descent is but a span.

Yet, set as he doth, and 'tis well. Have all
Thy beams home with thee: trim thy lamp, buy oil,
And then set forth; who is thus dressed, the Fal
Furthers his glory, and gives death the foil.
Man is a summer's day; whose youth and fire
Cool to a glorious evening, and expire.

When night comes, list thy deeds; make plain the way
'Twixt Heaven and thee; block it not with delays,
But perfect all before thou sleep'st; then say
There's one sun more strung on my bead of days.
What's good score up for joy; the bad well scanned
Wash off with tears, and get thy Master's hand.

Thy accounts thus made, spend in the grave one hour
Before thy time; be not a stranger there
Where thou may'st sleep whole ages; life's poor flow'r
Lasts not a night sometimes. Bad spirits fear
This conversation; but the good man lies
Intombed many days before he dies.

Being laid and dressed for sleep, close not thy eyes
Up with thy curtains; give thy soul the wing
In some good thoughts; so when the day shall rise
And thou unrak'st thy fire, those sparks will bring
New flames; besides where these lodge vain heats mourn
And die; that bush where God is, shall not burn.

When thy nap's over, stir thy fire, unrake
In that dead age; one beam i' th' dark outvies
Two in the day; then from the damps and ache
Of night shut up thy leaves, be chaste; God pries
Through thickest nights; though then the sun be far
Do thou the works of day, and rise a star.

Briefly, Do as thou would'st be done unto,
Love God, and love thy neighbour; watch, and pray.
These are the Words and Works of life; this do,
And live; who doth not thus, hath lost Heav'ns way.
O lose it not! look up, wilt change those lights
For chains of darkness and eternal nights?





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