"They Are All Gone Into The World Of Light!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Henry Vaughan was one of the "metaphysical poets" of the seventeenth century. The term was applied by Samuel Johnson in the following century to a group of lyrists who expressed their religious and emotional experiences through the medium of sacred poetry. In Vaughan's case, we find the poet combining mysticism with an ardent love of external nature. This particular poem, characterized by strong overtones of religious mysticism and references to external nature, is probably the best-known and most popular of Vaughan's works. As the poet sits alone the memories of departed friends come to him; memory "glows and glitters." The poet believes the visions of his departed friends are revealed to him by God and are intended to inspire divine love in his cold heart. Death comes to seem beautiful, though mysterious, and the poet strives to probe the unknown. He calls upon God either to clear the gloom from the vision or permit him to join in death those who have departed and now have the clear vision he seeks. The poem begins with these lines:

They are all gone into the world of light!
And I alone sit lingering here;
Their very memory is fair and bright,
And my sad thoughts doth clear.