Henry Vaughan (1621-1695), Retirement
Fresh fields and woods! the Earth's fair face,
God's foot-stool, and mans dwelling-place.
I ask not why the first Believer
Did love to be a Country liver?
Who to secure pious content
Did pitch by groves and wells his tent;
Where he might view the boundless skie,
And all those glorious lights on high:
With flying meteors, mists and show'rs,
Subjected hills, trees, meads and Flow'rs:
And ev'ry minute bless the King
And wise Creatour of each thing.
I ask not why he did remove
To happy Mamre's holy grove,
Leaving the Citie's of the plain
To Lot and his successless train?
All various Lusts in Cities still
Are found; they are the Thrones of Ill.
The dismal Sinks, where blood is spill'd,
Cages with much uncleanness fill'd.
But rural shades are the sweet fense
Of piety and innocence.
They are the Meek's calm region, where
Angels descend, and rule the sphere:
Where heav'n lyes Leiguer, and the Dove
Duely as Dew, comes from above.
If Eden be on Earth at all,
'Tis that, which we the Country call.
The first believer (line 3) is Abraham, who, separating himself from Lot, "removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre" (Genesis 13:18). Francis T. Palgrave, in The Treasury of Sacred Song
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1889), p. 92, n. 3, defines leiguer
(line 25) as "at rest; or (by confusion with leaguer