Commentary on Ascension - Hymn

Remembering lost loved ones

The first two stanzas of Ascension – Hymn refer to Vaughan's memories of recently lost loved ones. Their memory both lightens his life and causes sadness. The contrast of where they are now ‘in an Air of glory', and where he is ‘My days .../ Meer glimmering and decays' turns his thoughts to death and to the much better life after death. He sees death (‘Dear, beauteous death!') positively, as an entry into light and mystery of which we are given the smallest glimpses in this world (‘into glory peep').

Body and soul

He proceeds by a series of images to separate body and soul. The body is a shell or a tomb, out of which the soul will fly away at death. The language is almost entirely in terms of light and darkness. Though we may think of death as darkness, it is in fact life on earth that is shrouded and gloomy. He finishes with a plea to God either to give him more revelation of heaven or take him there through death.

Investigating Ascension - Hymn
  • How else might life after death be visualised?
  • To what extent is Vaughan's desire for heaven just because of the loss of loved ones?
  • Or is it some more deep-seated longing? Look at his The Retreate
  • List the words in Ascension – Hymn that are to do with light and shade.
  • List words that are to do with enclosure and entrapment, and freedom.
Related material
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.