Imagery and symbolism in Ascension - Hymn


Much of the imagery in Ascension – Hymn is to do with light. This fits in with mystical tradition, both Christian and Platonic. The images are consistent with this:

  • the similes of ‘Like stars...' and ‘as Angels in some brighter dreams ... '
  • the metaphors ‘an air of glory'; ‘the jewel of the Just'; ‘mists'; ‘glass'
  • the analogy of ‘If a star ... '

The idea of ‘light doth trample on my days' is vivid and original. He is crushed by the memories and the sense of loss, even homelessness.

Fledg'd birds

Vaughan was greatly influenced by George Herbert, and the emblem of ‘some fledg'd birds nest' in stanza is indebted to Herbert. It is strongly Platonic in nature: the body is the outer shell. Death shows us that the bird (or soul) has ‘hatched' and flown off, though we cannot know where, except that it will be a ‘fair Well, or Grove'. Interestingly, ‘fair Well' echoes ‘farewell', which brings us back to the opening stanzas. The ‘grove' is a natural feature which he also mentions in Regeneration, and has symbolic significance.

Investigating Ascension - Hymn
  • Consider the imagery Vaughan uses in Ascension - Hymn.
  • What is the force of the simile in stanza 7?
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