Vaughan is generally regarded as a metaphysical poet and "The World" is a prime example of the kind of poetry normally associated with the so-called Metaphysical School. Metaphysical poetry was renowned for expressing often complex theological, scientific, and philosophical ideas in elaborately constructed verse. And in "The World," Vaughan presents us with a poetic vision replete with the themes of salvation and eternal life.
In "The World," Vaughan shows us how a merely earthly life cannot bring us true happiness. Instead, we must look to eternity as represented by the striking image of a large, bright ring of light:
I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
All calm, as it was bright;
Eternal life is the most wondrous of all treasures, yet we're too often preoccupied with the things of this world to realize this. The doting lover, the weary statesman, the miser constantly worried about someone stealing his money, all of their eyes are fixed firmly on the here and now, what they wrongly think is the real world. Instead, they should raise their eyes, their voices and their hearts to God, for it is only in him, and not in lust, riches, or earthly fame that true salvation is to be found.