In the collection by Henry Vaughan titled Silex Scintil-lans Vaughan includes a number of poems that focus on death. Among these is "They Are All Gone into the World of Light!" which provides a strong example of Vaughan's positive attitudes toward death. He has no fear of dying, as he inevitably expresses death as resulting in an opportunity for humans to experience rebirth through Christ's regenerative sacrifice. Critics note that this poem focuses on the death of Vaughan's brother, William, as had "Silence, and stealth of days!" However, Vaughan wrote it later and universalized the death theme to apply to the many others he knew who had also died. This speaker does not so much grieve for those lost as wish he could join them, opening with the title line, the next three lines noting, "And I alone sit lingering here." The participle lingering is a passively active verb, indicating a result of indecision.
The traditional use of light to symbolize Christ and man's redemption is from the New Testament of the Bible, particularly from the first lines of the opening chapter of the Gospel according to John. In the second of Vaughan's 10 four-line stanzas he extends the light metaphor with terms such as glows and glitters and figurative language (figure of speech) such as the similes
Like stars upon some gloomy grove, or those faint beams in which this hill is dressed,
After the sun's remove.
His use of alliteration and personification enhances the nature imagery, as does the contrast between glows and glitters and gloomy and faint. He continues this technique as the speaker describes his vision of the dead in the third stanza, contrasting their "air of glory" walking in "light" with his own "days, which are at best but dull and hoary, / Mere glimmering and decays." Alliteration appears again in the fourth stanza, when the speaker praises "o holy Hope! And high Humility, / High as the heavens above" for allowing him to see a future that he may possibly claim. The fifth stanza equates "beauteous Death" with "the jewel of the just," which requires darkness in order to shine. The speaker makes clear in the sixth stanza that men's faculties remain diminished as he is figuratively left in the dark on so many matters. He illustrates by noting that a man may see a bird's nest and know the fledgling has flown, but where the bird sings now, "That is to him unknown." Man's thoughts, however, may be penetrated, as angels appear in "brighter dreams," calling man's soul during sleep, allowing "strange thoughts to transcend our wonted themes," allowing him to "peep" at "glory."
Vaughan incorporates further effective imagery in the eighth stanza, asking readers to imagine a star "confined to a tomb" where "her captive flames" would "burn." When the same "hand that locked her up" opens the door, her light will "shine throughout the sphere." This serves as a reference to God's grace, which releases man's soul after death if he has accepted that grace, which leads to redemption. The penultimate stanza serves to praise God as "Father of eternal life," the giver of "true liberty," while in the final stanza the speaker requests that the mists through which he envisions life after death be dispersed. As an alternative, and obviously the desired act, God may "remove me hence unto that hill, / Where I shall need no glass." The last line reflects on Corinthians 13:12, commonly known as the Love Chapter, in which the disciple Paul writes, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face."
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