Henry Vaughan

1621-1695. Poet. From a Welsh family, he was educated at Jesus College, Oxford, fought briefly for the Royalists in the Civil War, and spent the rest of his life as a country doctor. He acknowledged the influence of George Herbert* in his religious poems, Silex Scintillans (1650, enlarged 1655), but in his experience he is more of a mystic than Herbert. In this regard he may owe something to the Hermetic interests of his twin brother, Thomas. Two of his emphases deserve particular mention. One is the link he saw between the nonhuman creatures and God in, by contrast with man, an unfallen intercourse; the other, his quasi-Platonic view of the prenatal existence of the soul with God. As a poet his work is uneven, and he is often unable to sustain the inspired level at which he opens a poem.