Blood and Water from Stone: Eliot, Moses, and Vaughan in the Wilderness

T. S. Eliot, "The Silurist" [a regionalist pen-name for Henry Vaughan], The Dial, 1927:
... We all know the mood; and we can all, if we choose to relax to that extent, indulge in the luxury of reminiscence of childhood; but if we are at all mature and conscious, we refuse to indulge this weakness to the point of writing and poetizing about it; we know that it is something to be buried and done with, though the corpse will from time to time find its way up to the surface. ("Silurist" 260-61)
In "Mystic and Politician as Poet: Vaughan, Traherne, Marvell, Milton," The Listener (2 April, 1930), 590, Eliot calls Vaughan "in some ways the most original and difficult of all of the followers of Donne," and also "the most various."

From Henry Vaughan, Silex Scintillans [Spark from Flint] (1650)

Authoris (de se) Emblema.  [image]  [new window]

Tentâsti, fateor, sine vulnere saepius, et me
Consultum voluit
Vox, sine voce, frequens;
Ambivit placido divinior aura meatu,
Et frustrà sancto murmure praemonuit.
Surdus eram, mutusque
Silex: Tu, (quanta tuorum
Cura tibi est!) aliâ das renovare viâ.
Permutas Curam: Jamque irritatus Amorem
Posse negas, et vim,
Vi, superare paras,
Accedis propior, molemque, et
Saxea rumpis
Pectora, fitque
Caro, quod fuit ante Lapis.
En lacerum! Caelosque tuos ardentia tandem
Fragmenta, et liquidas ex
Adamante genas.
Sic olim undantes
Petras, Scopulosque vomentes *
Curâsti, O populi providus usque tui!
Quam miranda tibi manus est!
Moriendo, revixi;
fractas jam sum ditior inter opes.
The Author's Emblem, Of Himself.  [tr. DK]

Often, I admit, you tried the way without wounding,
and your voice without voice ever willed my instruction;
your divine breath embraced me with its gentle access
and vainly forewarned me with its gentle murmur.
I was deaf, dumb, a flint; and so great your concern
for your loved ones, you grant me a different renewal,
change your care, and provoked renounce your way
of love and prepare to defeat force with force.
You close in, crush the burden of my craggy
breast, so that what was once stone becomes flesh;
see it shattered to bits, at last kindled with flames
of your heaven, cheeks flowing where adamant was.
So, forever providing for your chosen people, you once
made rocks pour forth, and stones burst out with waves.*
What a wonder your hand! by my death I revive,
and grow richer for having my goods fall to ruin.
*Moses striking the rock to get water in Exod. 17:1-17; cf. Num. 20 and St. Paul's typological reference, 1 Cor. 10:3-4