Henry Vaughan

Henry Vaughan (vôn), 1622–95, one of the English metaphysical poets. Born in Breconshire, Wales, he signed himself Silurist, after the ancient inhabitants of that region. After leaving Oxford, where he did not take a degree, he turned to the study of law. Later he switched to medicine and spent his life as a highly respected physician. His greatest poetry is contained in Silex Scintillans (1650; second part, 1655), which includes "The Ascension Hymn," "The World," "Quickness," "The Retreat," and "They are all gone into the world of light." Though he openly admitted his indebtedness to George Herbert, where Herbert celebrates the institution of the Church, Vaughan is more interested in natural objects and in a mystical communion with nature. Vaughan's other works include Poems (1646), Olor Iscanus (1651), Thalia Rediviva (1678), The Mount of Olives (1652), and Flores Solitudinis (1654).

See edition of his works edited by L. C. Martin (2d ed. 1957); complete poems edited by A. Rudrum (1981); biography by F. E. Hutchinson (1947); studies by E. Holmes (1932, repr. 1967), R. Garner (1959), R. A. Durr (1962), T. O. Calhoun (1981).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Henry Vaughan: Selected full-text books and articles

Henry Vaughan: A Life and Interpretation By F. E. Hutchinson Clarendon Press, 1947
FREE! The Works of Henry Vaughan By Henry Vaughan; Leonard Cyril Martin Clarendon Press, vol.1, 1914
FREE! The Works of Henry Vaughan By Henry Vaughan; Leonard Cyril Martin Clarendon Press, vol.2, 1914
Three Metaphysical Poets By Margaret Willy The British Council, 1961
Librarian’s tip: Discusses Henry Vaughan, Richard Crashaw, and Thomas Traherne
Four Metaphysical Poets: Donne, Herbert, Vaughan, Crashaw By Joan Bennett Cambridge University Press, 1953 (2nd edition)
Poets and Mystics By E. I. Watkin Sheed & Ward, 1953
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "Henry Vaughan"
John Donne and the Seventeenth-Century Metaphysical Poets By Harold Bloom Chelsea House, 1986
Librarian’s tip: "Henry Vaughan: Modes of Communication" begins on p. 139
Poetry and Humanism By M. M. Mahood Cape, 1950
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Vaughan: The Symphony of Nature"
The Cultural Revolution of the Seventeenth Century By S. L. Bethell D. Dobson, 1951
Librarian’s tip: "The Poetry of Henry Vaughan, Silurist" begins on p. 121
Of Paradise and Light: Essays on Henry Vaughan and John Milton in Honor of Alan Rudrum By Donald R. Dickson; Holly Faith Nelson University of Delaware Press, 2004
The English Civil Wars in the Literary Imagination By Claude J. Summers; Ted-Larry Pebworth University of Missouri Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Resistance, Collaboration, and Silence: Henry Vaughan and Breconshire Royalism" begins on p. 102
Renaissance Studies in Honor of Hardin Craig By Baldwin Maxwell; W. D. Briggs; Francis R. Johnson; E. N. S. Thompson Stanford University Press, 1941
Librarian’s tip: "The Theme of Pre-Existence and Infancy in the Retreate" begins on p. 292
English Lyric Poetry: The Early Seventeenth Century By Jonathan F. S. Post Routledge, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Arenas of Retreat: Blood, Bread, and Poetry in Henry Vaughan"
The Age of Milton: An Encyclopedia of Major 17th-Century British and American Authors By Alan Hager Greenwood Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "Henry Vaughan" begins on p. 340
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