To My Books
Bright books! the perspectives to our weak sights,
The clear projections of discerning lights,
Burning and shining thoughts, man’s posthume day,
The track of fled souls, and their milkie way,
The dead alive and busie, the still voice
Of enlarged spirits, kind Heaven’s white decoys!
Who lives with you lives like those knowing flowers,
Which in commerce with light spend all their hours;
Which shut to clouds, and shadows nicely shun.
But with glad haste unveil to kiss the sun.
Beneath you all is dark, and a dead night.
Which whoso lives in wants both health and sight
By sucking you, the wise, like bees, do grow
Healing and rich, though this they do most slow.
Because most choicely; for as great a store
Have we of books as bees of herbs, or more:
And the great task to try, then know, the good,
To discern weeds, and judge of wholesome food,
Is a rare scant performance. For man dyes
Oft ere ’tis done, while the bee feeds and flyes.
But you were all choice flowers; all set and dressed
By old sage florists, who well knew the best;
And I amidst you all am turned a weed.
Not wanting knowledge, but for want of heed.
Then thank thyself, wild fool, that would’st not be
Content to know — what was too much for thee!
From The Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations of Henry Vaughan
Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1856
Available on the Internet Archive: Link
This is one in a series of neglected poems taken from the Internet Archive.