Henry Vaughan - The Retreat

Henry Vaughan - The Retreat

This poem dramatizes the conflict between the growing age and the hope to return back.

In this poem, Henry Vaughan presents a speaker, who uses metaphysical. Vaughan wants to retreat back to his childhood, which can be read as an escape of the corrupt adult world. While, on the other hand, Vaughan celebrates his perfect soul, before it "sinned." In lines 3-4, he says, "Before I understood this place / Appointed for my second race." This could not only mean a childhood state of innocence and ignorance, but his pre-conceived soul--a kind of Garden of Eden pre-fall state of grace.

It would seem in Christian theology that the best way for a grown man to attain heavenly perfection is to die and ascend to heaven, moving forward in age. But, Vaughan wants to go backward, to negate all his past sin and be washed clean from the start. Some men a forward motion love, But I by backward steps would move and when this dust falls to the urn, In that state I came, return.

Overall, Vaughan refutes the temporal and carnal. He champions his soul above the mind.