What is the theme of Vaughan's poem 'Retreat'? the basic meaning of the poem Retreat' by Vaughan.  

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The dominant theme of the poem is loss of childhood innocence and all that it entails. Vaughan presents childhood as a state of "angel infancy" which he desperately wants to regain. In his idyllic evocation of his early years, the poet portrays childhood as a happy time, full of innocence...

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The dominant theme of the poem is loss of childhood innocence and all that it entails. Vaughan presents childhood as a state of "angel infancy" which he desperately wants to regain. In his idyllic evocation of his early years, the poet portrays childhood as a happy time, full of innocence and bliss. As we get older, however, we inevitably lose sight of that purity, that primal sense of oneness with the world around us. It is this feeling of unity that the poet wishes to recover.

In that sense, "retreat" has a double meaning in the poem. It refers both to a place of refuge and an act of withdrawal. The poet combines both of these meanings in his stated desire to return to those formative years when his soul was filled with a "white, celestial thought." During his childhood, the poet felt closer to God; Christ was his "first love," whose face he saw on some "gilded cloud" or flower. The implication is that, in order to attain a purer, more godly life, we must seek to regain that sense of wonder that entrances us in our formative years. Our all-too-brief childhood provides us with a rare glimpse of the eternal, the transcendent; and like the good Neoplatonist that he is, Vaughan regards this world as more real than the material world we inhabit and which finds expression in the lives we lead as adults.

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In the poem, Retreat by Henry Vaughn, the author uses the theme of pre-existence as souls in heaven before we are born, and the theme of innocence and purity by retreating to being a baby.  He laments his sins and impurities and longs for the cleanliness from sin of the newborn child.  He also hopes that he will soon return to the purity of the soul in heaven.  Vaughn was influenced by a conversion to Christianity later in life and by the death of his brother which influenced the themes of innocence and purity which become so prominent in his poetry written after his conversion.

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