I saw Eternity the other night, Like a great ring of pure and endless light, All calm, as it was bright; And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years, Driv'n by the spheres Like a vast shadow mov'd; in which the world And all her train were hurl'd. The doting lover in his quaintest strain Did there complain; Near him, his lute, his fancy, and his flights, Wit's sour delights, With gloves, and knots, the silly snares of pleasure, Yet his dear treasure All scatter'd lay, while he his eyes did pour Upon a flow'r. The darksome statesman hung with weights and woe, Like a thick midnight-fog mov'd there so slow, He did not stay, nor go; Condemning thoughts (like sad eclipses) scowl Upon his soul, And clouds of crying witnesses without Pursued him with one shout. Yet digg'd the mole, and lest his ways be found, Work'd under ground, Where he did clutch his prey; but one did see That policy; Churches and altars fed him; perjuries Were gnats and flies; It rain'd about him blood and tears, but he Drank them as free. The fearful miser on a heap of rust Sate pining all his life there, did scarce trust His own hands with the dust, Yet would not place one piece above, but lives In fear of thieves; Thousands there were as frantic as himself, And hugg'd each one his pelf; The downright epicure plac'd heav'n in sense, And scorn'd pretence, While others, slipp'd into a wide excess, Said little less; The weaker sort slight, trivial wares enslave, Who think them brave; And poor despised Truth sate counting by Their victory. Yet some, who all this while did weep and sing, And sing, and weep, soar'd up into the ring; But most would use no wing. O fools (said I) thus to prefer dark night Before true light, To live in grots and caves, and hate the day Because it shews the way, The way, which from this dead and dark abode Leads up to God, A way where you might tread the sun, and be More bright than he. But as I did their madness so discuss One whisper'd thus, "This ring the Bridegroom did for none provide, But for his bride."
- Henry Vaughan (1621?-1695), "I Saw Eternity"
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