HENRY VAUGHAN, 1622-1695
The third requisite in our poet is imitation, to be able to convert the riches or substance of another poet to his own use. BEN JONSON
VAUGHAN was fascinated by the phrases of other poets. This is not unusual in a young poet; but the habit of borrowing continued with Vaughan to the end. At first his borrowings strike no roots, they are picked blossoms that have caught his fancy, later they are young shoots that bloom anew in his poems. In his two collections of secular poems, Poems, with the Tenth Satire of Juvenal Englished (1646) and Olor Iscanus (1651), the most obvious debts are to Donne and Habington, though he is attracted also by the Elizabethan use of mythological names and their Petrarchan attitude to the mistress. He seldom strikes a personal note; one suspects he is not sure of what he wants to say. His poems seem to fall apart, an elaborate image is followed by a lame conclusion. He is more interested in poetry than in his poem. In Silex Scintillans ( 1650), Herbert's influence is predominant. He rehandles Herbert's themes, borrows his phrases, copies his metrical effects, repeats his titles and yet now the poem is his own. Whatever he takes from Herbert he transmutes because his way of apprehending is different. The influence of Herbert's teaching, and probably other influences as well,1 operated a 'conversion' in Vaughan and he became a religious poet; but his religious experience was unlike Donne's or Herbert's and required for its expression different imagery and different rhythms.____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Four Metaphysical Poets:Donne, Herbert, Vaughan, Crashaw. Edition: 2nd. Contributors: Joan Bennett - Author. Publisher: Cambridge University Press. Place of publication: Cambridge, England. Publication year: 1953. Page number: 71.
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