Henry Vaughan: Emotional Subjectivity

Robert Ellrodt

in Seven Metaphysical Poets

Published in print May 2000 | ISBN: 9780198117384
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670923 | DOI:
Henry Vaughan: Emotional Subjectivity

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The inspiration of Henry Vaughan is intensely subjective: the poet cultivates a ‘sweet self-privacy’. One cannot doubt that he expresses personal feelings even on the rare occasions when he uses the plural or resorts to a traditional dialogue between the soul and the body. There are autobiographical hints even in his profane poetry, as the recurrent allusions to the first meeting with the beloved suggest. In Silex Scintillans, a spiritual autobiography is outlined in ‘The Garland’ and ‘Vanity of Spirit’. Vaughan's poems disclose a kind of self-consciousness different from those of John Donne and George Herbert. Emotional self-awareness in Vaughan may take the form of an awareness of a bond with other creatures. Being highly conscious of the contrast between the ordered life of other creatures and his own straying, he remains intensely aware of his individuality. Sympathy and subjectivity are reconciled. In Death, Vaughan associates death with beauty and with the poet's favourite themes and images expressing his deeper emotions.

Keywords: Henry Vaughan; subjectivity; sympathy; autobiography; poetry; self-consciousness; emotional self-awareness; death; beauty

Chapter.  4065 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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