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HENRY VAUGHAN, “CHRIST’S NATIVITY”

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Over the next four days I am posting four Christmas poems by Henry Vaughan the English Metaphysical poet. These four poems especially provide moments for contemplation during this Advent Season.

Henry Vaughan (1621-95)

Christ’s Nativity

I

Awake, glad heart! Get up and sing,
It is the birthday of thy King,
Awake! Awake!
The sun doth shake
Light from his locks, and all the way
Breathing perfumes, doth spice the day.

Awake, awake! Hark, how the wood rings,
Winds whisper, and the busy springs
A consort make;
Awake, awake!
Man is their high-priest, and should rise
To offer up the sacrifice.

I would I were some bird or star,
Fluttering in woods, or lifted far
Above this inn
And road of sin!
Then either star, or bird, should be
Shining, or singing still to Thee.

I would I had in my best part
Fit rooms for Thee! Or that my heart
Were so clean as
Thy manger was!
But I am all filth, and obscene,
Yet if Thou wilt, Thou canst make clean.

Sweet Jesu! will then; Let no more
This leper haunt, and soil Thy door,
Curse him, ease him
O release him!
And let once more by mystic birth
The Lord of life be born in earth.

II

How kind is heaven to man! If here
One sinner doth amend
Straight there is joy, and every sphere
In music doth contend;
And shall we then no voices lift?
Are mercy, and salvation
Not worth our thanks? Is life a gift
Of no more acceptation?
Shall He that did come down from thence,
And here for us was slain,
Shall He be now cast off? No sense
Of all His woes remain?
Can neither Love, nor sufferings bind?
Are we all stone, and earth?
Neither His bloody passions mind,
Nor one day bless His birth?
Alas, my God! Thy birth now here
Must not be numbered in the year.

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