A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Vaughan, Henry

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Vaughan, Henry (1622-1695). -- Poet, b. in the parish of Llansaintffraed, Brecknock, and as a native of the land of the ancient Silures, called himself "Silurist." He was at Jesus Coll., Oxf., studied law in London, but finally settled as a physician at Brecon and Newton-by-Usk. In his youth he was a decided Royalist and, along with his twin brother Thomas, was imprisoned. His first book was Poems, with the Tenth Satire of Juvenal Englished. It appeared in 1646. Olor Iscanus (the Swan of Usk), a collection of poems and translations, was surreptitiously pub. in 1651. About this time he had a serious illness which led to deep spiritual impressions, and thereafter his writings were almost entirely religious. Silex Scintillans (Sparks from the Flint), his best known work, consists of short poems full of deep religious feeling, fine fancy, and exquisite felicities of expression, mixed with a good deal that is quaint and artificial. It contains "The Retreat," a poem of about 30 lines which manifestly suggested to Wordsworth his Ode on the Intimations of Immortality, and "Beyond the Veil," one of the finest meditative poems in the language. Flores Solitudinis (Flowers of Solitude) and The Mount of Olives are devout meditations in prose. The two brothers were joint authors of Thalia Rediviva: the Pastimes and Diversions of a Country Muse (1678), a collection of translations and original poems.