streames of the springing day', Crashaw at his best has the vernal freshness, delicacy, and radiance of Botticelli.


II
HENRY VAUGHAN

Perhaps through Nicholas Ferrar at Little Gidding, Crashaw knew, and much admired, the work of George Herbert. He sent to a friend, as an aid to prayer, a copy of Herbert's poems, and probably derived from Herbert's The Temple the title for his own first volume; while the writer of the Preface to Steps to the Temple declared that 'Here's Herbert's second, but equall, who hath retriv'd Poetry of late'.

In Henry Vaughan, Herbert found a still more devout disciple. Vaughan's Preface to Silex Scintillans refers to 'the blessed man, Mr. George Herbert, whose holy life and verse gained many pious Converts, (of whom I am the least)'. In all his work after the first volume the influence of Herbert is pervasive, not only in subject and spirit, but in many obvious echoes of Herbert's tides, metres, and phrases.1 That Vaughan was, however, no mere imitator of the man who was his acknowledged master in both his poetry and his religious life, can be seen in the finest poems in Silex Scintillans. In this volume Herbert's influence, though nowhere stronger, has been assimilated and transmuted by Vaughan's individual way of seeing. At his best he speaks with the distinctive voice of a poet in his own right: one whose apprehension of reality is different from Herbert's (especially in their respective attitudes to nature); who is more lyrical in the soaring of his religious exaltation or grief; and who, at his moments of intensest spiritual

____________________
1
These are far too numerous to cite here. Readers interested in tracing the similarities and borrowings should see the Notes to L. C. Martin: The Works of Henry Vaughan (second edition, 1957), especially those to Silex Scintillans, pp. 727-751.

-19-

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Three Metaphysical Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • I - Richard Crashaw 7
  • II - Henry Vaughan 19
  • III - Thomas Traherne 31
  • A Select Bibliography 43
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