Henry Vaughan: Supernatural Naturalism

Robert Ellrodt

in Seven Metaphysical Poets

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

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In his profane poetry, Henry Vaughan had acknowledged his susceptibility to female beauty. In addition, a desire of elevation is inseparable from Vaughan's religious aspirations, yet his imagination does not soar spontaneously: he has the nostalgia, not the experience, of ascension. Vaughan's outlook could be described as a ‘supernatural naturalism’ which has some affinities with the ‘natural supernaturalism’ of the Romanticists. He does not propose a simple ‘analogy’ between the incessant renewal of nature and the survival of the soul followed by the body's resurrection. With his usual precision Donne had called attention to the different meanings of the term ‘spirit’, which can apply to the human soul, or to the animal spirits, or to the higher faculties of the soul in regenerate man. That is the reason why the imagination of the Silurist is so often inclined to present the Resurrection as a universal restoration, in which he only seeks a place for himself, interconnecting his personal destiny and the destiny of all creatures.

Keywords: Henry Vaughan; supernatural naturalism; nature; beauty; soul; body; spirit; ascension; Resurrection; destiny

Chapter.  8499 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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