Dyma bumed gyfrol mewn casgliad o lyfrau ar lenyddiaeth ysbrydol yr ail ganrif ar bymtheg. Cynhwysir cerddi o bum casgliad o gerddi gan Henry Vaughan, gyda chyflwyniad i fywyd y bardd o ddyffryn Wysg gan Anne Cluysenaar.
This is the fifth volume of a series of introductory books on seventeenth century spiritual writing. Poetry from all of Vaughan's five collections have been included in this anthology, which Anne Cluysenaar introduces with a scholarly but accessible introduction to Vaughan's life. She provides a valuable initiation into the work of this brilliant Usk valley poet.
I was fortunate enough to read these poems in the very area where Henry Vaughan wrote many of them nearly 350 years ago. In a garden overlooking the river Usk with the grandeur of the Brecon Beacons in the distance, and birds and other wildlife fluttering or darting around, it is not difficult to understand what inspired him to write about the countryside and the spiritual events he experienced there.
In her comprehensive introduction, Anne Cluysenaar (who is editor of the journal Scintilla which is devoted to the work of Henry Vaughan) gives those of us who are not very familiar with his life or works a short account of his family, his marriages and his involvement in the Civil War, when he served in the Royalist cavalry under Sir Herbert Price. ‘Close friends were killed or lost their livings, his worldly expectations were shattered and the death of his brother William . . . created in him a state of emotional and intellectual extremity.’ Later, he practised as a doctor for about 40 years and there was a long period when he published no poetry.
The introduction guides us to appreciate the various influences: family, biblical, educational and spiritual which led to the creation of such pious, sacred and mystical works. It helps us, also, to know what to look for in the poems written at different times in Henry Vaughan’s life. A very devout man, he ‘knew only too well what it is to drift with the prevailing culture’, and although he might have enjoyed national celebrity, he devoted himself to service as a physician and a poet.
This collection includes poems from Olor Iscamus (The Swan of Usk), published in 1651, Silex Scintillans I (Flashing Flint), 1650, Silex Scintillans II, 1655, and Thalia Rediviva, 1678.
Henry Vaughan’s poems touch every aspect of man’s spiritual needs and can be a source of enlightenment and of comfort to those who experience the emotions associated with life, God, nature and mankind but have not the God-given talent to express them.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
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