Henry Vaughan and Thomas Vaughan

Nigel Smith

in The Oxford Handbook of Literature and the English Revolution

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199560608
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Henry Vaughan and Thomas Vaughan

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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This article examines the work of lawyer, soldier, physician, and poet Henry Vaughan. It discusses how his experiences before and after the Civil Wars turned him into a great poet, transcending the mediocrity that had marked his previous verse. At some point in the late 1640s, the depression he suffered in these years was accompanied by a physical illness, and a near-death encounter brought about a conversion in Vaughan. Shortly afterwards came the intense writing of sacred verse that would emerge as Silex scintillans, the most important collection of devotional verse to be published in the Civil War and Interregnum period. Through a very close engagement with the writing of George Herbert, in particular The Temple (1633), the most significant collection of devotional verse in the entire century, Vaughan remade himself as a high-order holy poet.

Keywords: Welsh poets; holy poets; poetry; Henry Vaughan; Thomas Vaughan; Silex scintillans; sacred verse

Article.  7392 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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