Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The traditional symbols of the Christian life of prayer are readily discoverable in Silex Scintillans, the poetic record of one man's quest for God; they both constitute its deepest meaning and establish its proper context. It is, however, clear that the poet, Henry Vaughan, has embodied these universal symbols in patterns of his own arrangement. In this arrangement, the poetic imagery, which forms the patterns by which the symbolism is understood, is of exceptional importance to his poems in its inspiration, structure, effect, and meaning. The poet’s individual vision, communicated by his imagery, encompasses a world of marked Christian contrasts: the wonder of daybreak is contrasted with the mystery of night; the “quick” world with its affirmation of revival and resurrection is contrasted the world of sleep and death. And the world of his native Breconshire landscape is contrasted with reminiscences of the Scriptural Garden of Eden. The poetic images of these contrasts combine to communicate in a unique ·way the symbolism of the poet is spiritual experience although in recent years several important studies have dealt with Vaughen’s imagery, the authors have concentrated on his visual and have practically ignored the aural imagery. It will appear that this aural imagery is focal to a full understanding of Vaughan's religious verse in that it adds meaning which is not conveyed by the visual image alone. It is my purpose, therefore, to examine Vaughan's use of aural imagery in Silex Scintillans, the volume of religious poetry recognized as his most notable achievement, and thus to point the way to an appreciation of the part that aural imagery played in his poetic technique. Incidentally, by this means, we may· come to appreciate one of the ways in which Vaughan is different from other poets of his time.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Vaughan, Henry, 1622-1695. Silex scintillans
English literature -- History and criticism




South Dakota State University