"THE RETREAT"- WORD-NOTES AND ANNOTATIONS



 Line No 1-20

Happy-blessed ; full of rapturous joy.  Those early days — referring to the days of the poet’s childhood. The poet was quite happy when he was a child. Shin’d—shone; was bright with. My — the poet’s. Angel-infancy — divine childhood. Childhood is redolent of angelic innocence and pu­rity. In his childhood, the poet was as pure and innocent as an angel. “This place — this earth. Before I…..... place — in his childhood the poet thought the earth to be a reality. Now as he has attained maturity of age and expe­rience, he has realised that the earth is an unreal, unsubstantial place, a dream or a vision.  Appointed — fixed, allotted.  My second race — his second existence.  According to the Platonic doctrine of Reminiscences, the soul of man has a prenatal existence in heaven which is its proper or original home.  Fancy — think.  Aught—anything on earth.   Taught — instructed. A white celestial thought — in his childhood, the poet did not think anything but of God. God is the embodiment of bright light in heaven. The word ‘white’ refers to the symbol of purity.   In his childhood, the poet’s mind was filled with purity, he thought that all objects of nature were invested with a divine radiance. I had....... a mile, or two— the poet did not make a long journey, and the’ result was that he could see the shin­ing, resplendent face of God.
My first love — heaven is the first love of the soul. Looking back — recollecting. At the short space — at the short distance from heaven. Could see ........... face — could see the shining face of God. Here “first love” and “bright face” both signify God.   It is important to note that Vaughan’s mysticism rings here. Gilded — golden colour ; bright. Gilded cloud — the cloud is tinged with the bright golden light of the rising sun. On......... flower — on any beautiful phenomenon of nature. Vaughan thinks of na­ture as a source of revelation. He interprets nature from religious point of view as God’s work. Gazing — looking at something with fixed attention. My gazing soul — the poet’s soul that is filled with deep thought.  Dwell an hour — meditate for some time on its divine beauty as the manifesta­tion of God.  My gazing ........... an hour —the poet’s eager, intent soul would contemplate for an hour. Those weaker glories— the reflection of God’s effulgence in the objects of nature. The light on the objects is efful­gence in the objects of nature. The light on the objects is but a weaker form of the divine resplendence. The idea is Platonic here.  Spy — espy ; see ; find. Shadows — reflected and dimmed glories.  Eternity — eternal God. Shadows of eternity — dimmed reflections of God. What the poet wants to say is that when he was a child, he had the flashes of eternity. In his innocence and purity he recollected the divine types of heavenly life. Would — injure or hurt conscience or feeling.   Before I.......... sound — before he had learnt the language of the sinful men who speak about pro­fane and immoral things of the world without any prick of conscience. In his childhood he had not yet polluted his mind or mouth with foul thoughts and foul language which might hurt the sensibilities of his conscience. Black art — ft commonly refers to magic which is a forbidden art. Here it means knowledge of evil.  Dispense — distribute or allot. Several — separate, distinct. A several........ sense — a separate or distinct sin to each of the fine senses. Dispense .. sense — Men commit sins not through one par­ticular organ but through all organs. The poet did not allow senses to be perverted. Felt-perceived. This fleshly dress — the gross body which is a kind of covering or screen for the soul. This is the garment of flesh with which the soul is clothed. Shoots — glimpses. Everlastingness — eter­nity. Bright shoots of everlastingness — it is a very compact and effective metaphysical ‘conceit’. It is the glory that shoots from the face of the Eternal (God) and penetrates through the barriers of the body into the in­ner soul of man like flashes. It is the senses and sins of man that dim his vision of God but the divine light penetrates into the soul through the gross body


  Line No 21-32



Long — desire much; yearn, travel back — go back. Ancient track — Old path of childhood. To travel....... track — to retrace his steps and go back to the innocent days of his childhood. This is the sense of “Retreat” which is the title of the poem. Vaughan hates the life of worldliness and worldly sins. He wants to escape from it into the world of innocence and purity which he possessed in his childhood. That plain — heaven, the city of God. Reach the plain — arrive at heaven where innocence, perfection and purity prevail. The glorious train — the band of angels in heaven; the company of saints. Where I first........ train — the soul, before being born on the earth, was in heaven, because heaven is the original home of the j soul. In heaven God and the angels were an abiding presence. As soon as the soul is born, it becomes detached from heaven and the glorious com­pany of angels. Enlightened — illuminated; emancipated.   The enlight­ened spirit — death liberates the soul from the bondage of the mortal body and brings it to heaven, which is the original home of the soul. After death, the soul of man becomes illumined. Sees — finds. That........ palm trees the city of God, i.e., heaven.  In the Bible heaven is portrayed as the city of palm trees. Too much stay — long residence in the world where all pleasure abound.  Drunk — intoxicated with the pleasures of the senses enjoyed for long.  My soul...... drunk — the poet admits that his soul is intoxicated with worldly pursuits and mundane affairs, and thus his soul is darkened. Staggers — reels; falters. Forward motion — going forward. Some man ....... love — generally people march forward in the path of life, grow up and advance in years and experience, power and wealth, etc., but the poet seeks to march backwards.   But I ......... move — the poet will move backward in search of childhood innocence and purity which he en­joyed in his childhood. This dust — it refers to the human body which is believed to be made of dust ; the earthly or moral body. Falls to the urn — lies buried in the grave. In that.......... return — Vaughan says that it is not possible for an aged person to become a child to regain his childhood in­nocence and purity. It is death which can alone liberate his soul from the mortal body, and the soul will be reborn on the earth, and thus he will go back to his former innocence and perfection.


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