'I Walk'd the Other Day' by Henry Vaughan

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1I walk'd the other day, to spend my hour,
2Into a field,
3Where I sometimes had seen the soil to yield
4A gallant flow'r;
5But winter now had ruffled all the bow'r
6And curious store
7I knew there heretofore.

8Yet I, whose search lov'd not to peep and peer
9I' th' face of things,
10Thought with my self, there might be other springs
11Besides this here,
12Which, like cold friends, sees us but once a year;
13And so the flow'r
14Might have some other bow'r.

15Then taking up what I could nearest spy,
16I digg'd about
17That place where I had seen him to grow out;
18And by and by
19I saw the warm recluse alone to lie,
20Where fresh and green
21He liv'd of us unseen.

22Many a question intricate and rare
23Did I there strow;
24But all I could extort was, that he now
25Did there repair
26Such losses as befell him in this air,
27And would ere long
28Come forth most fair and young.

29This past, I threw the clothes quite o'er his head;
30And stung with fear
31Of my own frailty dropp'd down many a tear
32Upon his bed;
33Then sighing whisper'd, "happy are the dead!
34What peace doth now
35Rock him asleep below!"

36And yet, how few believe such doctrine springs
37From a poor root,
38Which all the winter sleeps here under foot,
39And hath no wings
40To raise it to the truth and light of things;
41But is still trod
42By ev'ry wand'ring clod.

43O Thou! whose spirit did at first inflame
44And warm the dead,
45And by a sacred incubation fed
46With life this frame,
47Which once had neither being, form, nor name;
48Grant I may so
49Thy steps track here below,

50That in these masques and shadows I may see
51Thy sacred way;
52And by those hid ascents climb to that day,
53Which breaks from Thee,
54Who art in all things, though invisibly!
55Shew me thy peace,
56Thy mercy, love, and ease,

57And from this care, where dreams and sorrows reign,
58Lead me above,
59Where light, joy, leisure, and true comforts move
60Without all pain;
61There, hid in thee, shew me his life again,
62At whose dumb urn
63Thus all the year I mourn.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"I Walk'd the Other Day" by Henry Vaughan: A Profound Exploration of Nature and the Human Psyche

Are you a lover of nature? Do you often find yourself lost in its beauty and mystery, pondering the depths of your own soul? If so, you are not alone, for the great poets of history have been doing the same for centuries. And among them, Henry Vaughan stands out as a true master of the genre.

Vaughan was a Welsh poet and mystic who lived in the 17th century, during the tumultuous times of the English Civil War and the Restoration. His poetry is known for its deep spiritual and metaphysical themes, as well as its vivid descriptions of nature and the human psyche. In this essay, I will focus on one of his most famous poems, "I Walk'd the Other Day," and explore its rich symbolism and meaning.

The Poem

But first, let us read the poem in its entirety:

I Walk'd the Other Day
by Henry Vaughan

I walk'd the other day, to spend my hour,
Into a field,
Where I sometimes had seen the soil to yield
A gallant flower;

But Winter now had ruffled up her power,
And blust'ring blasts
Were come, and backward flung the locks that hung
In graceful curls about her snow-white neck;

Fierce tempests vex'd her gentle breast so long,
That at the last,
I fear'd she was grown dead.

Her head was dry'd with grief, and with her tears;
And, as I walk'd,
Her tongue did upbraid me,
And bade me go,
Whilst the wild winds did blow,

And cold rain driv'n before.

Her voice was like a fountain,
Leaking and falling from the rocks;
Her heart was civil, and her word was free.

The greatest mischief that our minds can fear,
Is not to feel
When we are wrong; nor is't a dangerous thing
To err, or to be dull, for life is a precious thing.

Oh, let us then be wise,
And think of our last end,
And what we are; and what we might have been."


At first glance, "I Walk'd the Other Day" appears to be a simple pastoral poem, describing a walk in a field during winter. However, upon closer inspection, it reveals itself to be a deeply symbolic and philosophical work, full of contrasts and paradoxes.

The first two lines set the scene and establish the speaker's intention: he walks "to spend his hour," implying a desire for solace or contemplation. The field he enters is not just any field, but one where he has seen "a gallant flower" before. This flower, as we will see, becomes a central symbol of the poem.

However, the speaker's expectation is immediately thwarted by the harshness of winter, represented by the personification of Winter as a female entity with "power" and "blust'ring blasts." The locks that once adorned her "snow-white neck" are now "backward flung," suggesting a loss of grace and beauty. The speaker becomes fearful that Winter has killed the gallant flower he sought, and sees her as dried-up and grieving.

This contrast between the hope of spring and the gloom of winter sets up a larger theme of the poem, which is the cyclical nature of life and the inevitability of death. The gallant flower represents the beauty and vitality of youth, while Winter symbolizes the decay and decline of old age. The speaker's fear that the flower is dead reflects his fear of his own mortality.

Yet, the poem does not give in to despair, but offers a message of hope and wisdom. The personification of Winter continues in her "tongue" that "did upbraid" the speaker, telling him to leave while the wild winds and cold rain "driv'n before." This tongue, like the female entity of Winter, is a symbol of the harsh reality of life that challenges and tests us. Yet, it is also a source of truth and wisdom, as it urges the speaker to face the adversity and learn from it.

The speaker's response to Winter's tongue is significant, for he sees it not as a threat but as a fountain, leaking and falling from the rocks. This image suggests that the harshness of life can also be a source of inspiration and creativity, like a fountain that nourishes and refreshes. The paradox of a civil heart and a free word in Winter's "gentle breast" highlights the dual nature of life, which can be both harsh and kind, restrictive and liberating.

The poem concludes with a moral lesson that is both philosophical and practical. The greatest mischief, it says, is not to feel when we are wrong, for that would lead us astray from the path of wisdom. Yet, it also acknowledges that it is okay to err or be dull, for life is a precious thing that should not be taken for granted. The final couplet, which urges us to think of our last end and what we might have been, is a reminder that life is fleeting and that we should make the most of it while we can.

The gallant flower, which seemed to have died in the harshness of winter, becomes a symbol of hope and perseverance in the face of adversity. It represents the beauty and fragility of life, but also the resilience and tenacity of the human spirit. In this sense, the poem can be seen as a celebration of life, even in its darkest moments.


"I Walk'd the Other Day" is a beautiful and profound poem that offers a rich exploration of nature and the human psyche. By using symbols and metaphors, Vaughan creates a powerful allegory of life that is both philosophical and practical. The poem invites us to contemplate the cyclical nature of life, the harshness of reality, and the beauty of perseverance. It also reminds us of our mortality and urges us to make the most of our precious time on earth. In short, it is a timeless masterpiece that speaks to the heart and soul of every human being.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

I Walk'd the Other Day by Henry Vaughan is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. It is a beautiful piece of literature that captures the essence of nature and the human experience. In this 2000-word analysis, we will delve into the poem's meaning, structure, and language, and explore why it has become such a beloved piece of poetry.

The poem begins with the speaker describing a walk he took one day. He says, "I walk'd the other day, to spend my hour, / Into a field, / Where I sometimes had seen the soil to yield / A gallant flower." The speaker is setting the scene for the rest of the poem, and we can already see that he is someone who enjoys nature and finds beauty in the world around him.

As the speaker continues his walk, he comes across a flower that catches his eye. He says, "Methought it had mine eyes / Enchanted." The flower is so beautiful that it seems to have a magical quality, and the speaker is captivated by it. He goes on to describe the flower in detail, saying that it is "a sweet disorder in the dress / Kindles in clothes a wantonness." The flower's petals are not perfectly arranged, but this imperfection only adds to its beauty. The speaker is suggesting that sometimes, imperfection can be more attractive than perfection.

The speaker then goes on to describe the flower's color, saying that it is "a mingled yarn, / Of colours strangely gay." The flower's colors are not uniform, but instead, they are a mixture of different hues. This adds to the flower's charm, as it is not like any other flower the speaker has seen before.

As the speaker continues to admire the flower, he begins to reflect on the fleeting nature of beauty. He says, "Yet there's a sweetness in the flower, / That strikes my sense, more than all other power." The speaker is acknowledging that the flower's beauty is temporary, but he is still able to appreciate it in the moment. He goes on to say, "It is not now as it hath been of yore; / - Turn wheresoe'er I may, / By night or day, / The things which I have seen I now can see no more." The speaker is recognizing that everything in life is transient, and that we must appreciate the beauty around us while we can.

The poem then takes a turn, as the speaker begins to reflect on his own mortality. He says, "We are the flowers / That fade, and fall, and die." The speaker is comparing himself and all humans to the flower he has been admiring. He is acknowledging that just like the flower, we too will eventually wither and die. This is a sobering thought, but the speaker is not dwelling on it. Instead, he is using it as a reminder to live in the moment and appreciate the beauty around us.

The poem ends with the speaker saying, "Nothing is worth, / If your eye doth miss it, / For every scent that blows." The speaker is reminding us that life is short, and we must make the most of it. We must appreciate the beauty around us, even if it is fleeting, because it is what makes life worth living.

Now that we have explored the poem's meaning, let's take a closer look at its structure and language. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, which means that each line has four iambs. An iamb is a metrical foot that consists of two syllables, with the first syllable unstressed and the second syllable stressed. This gives the poem a rhythmic quality, and it helps to emphasize certain words and phrases.

The language in the poem is simple and straightforward, but it is also very poetic. The speaker uses imagery and metaphor to convey his thoughts and feelings. For example, when he describes the flower as having "a sweet disorder in the dress," he is using metaphor to suggest that imperfection can be beautiful. The language in the poem is also very sensory, with the speaker describing the flower's colors and scent in detail. This helps to create a vivid picture in the reader's mind.

One of the reasons why this poem has become such a beloved piece of literature is because it speaks to universal themes that are relevant to all of us. The poem is about the beauty of nature, the fleeting nature of life, and the importance of living in the moment. These are themes that have resonated with readers for centuries, and they continue to do so today.

In conclusion, I Walk'd the Other Day by Henry Vaughan is a beautiful poem that captures the essence of nature and the human experience. The speaker's reflections on the beauty of the flower and the fleeting nature of life are poignant and thought-provoking. The poem's structure and language are also very poetic, with the use of imagery and metaphor helping to create a vivid picture in the reader's mind. This is a classic poem that has stood the test of time, and it will continue to be appreciated by readers for generations to come.

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