Innocence

By Thomas Traherne 1637–1674 Thomas Traherne
But that which most I wonder at, which most
I did esteem my bliss, which most I boast,
And ever shall enjoy, is that within
I felt no stain, nor spot of sin.

No darkness then did overshade,
      But all within was pure and bright,
No guilt did crush, nor fear invade
      But all my soul was full of light.

A joyful sense and purity
      Is all I can remember;
   The very night to me was bright,
      ’Twas summer in December.

A serious meditation did employ
My soul within, which taken up with joy
Did seem no outward thing to note, but fly
All objects that do feed the eye.

While it those very objects did
      Admire, and prize, and praise, and love,
Which in their glory most are hid,
      Which presence only doth remove.

      Their constant daily presence I
Rejoicing at, did see;
      And that which takes them from the eye
Of others, offer’d them to me.

No inward inclination did I feel
To avarice or pride: my soul did kneel
In admiration all the day. No lust, nor strife,
Polluted then my infant life.

No fraud nor anger in me mov’d,
      No malice, jealousy, or spite;
All that I saw I truly lov’d.
      Contentment only and delight

      Were in my soul. O Heav’n! what bliss
Did I enjoy and feel!
      What powerful delight did this
Inspire! for this I daily kneel.

Whether it be that nature is so pure,
And custom only vicious; or that sure
God did by miracle the guilt remove,
And make my soul to feel his love

So early: or that ’twas one day,
      Wherein this happiness I found;
Whose strength and brightness so do ray,
      That still it seems me to surround;

What ere it is, it is a light
      So endless unto me
That I a world of true delight
      Did then and to this day do see.

That prospect was the gate of Heav’n, that day
The ancient light of Eden did convey
Into my soul: I was an Adam there
A little Adam in a sphere

Of joys! O there my ravish’d sense
      Was entertain’d in Paradise,
And had a sight of innocence
      Which was beyond all bound and price.

An antepast of Heaven sure!
      I on the earth did reign;
Within, without me, all was pure;
      I must become a child again.

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Poet Thomas Traherne 1637–1674

POET’S REGION England

Subjects Time & Brevity, Faith & Doubt, Religion, Living, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

Biography

Unlike the major figures of the "Metaphysical Revival," John Donne and George Herbert, whose works were widely known and discussed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Thomas Traherne is almost wholly a discovery of twentieth-century scholarship. In his own lifetime he published only one book, Roman Forgeries (1673), and, as a clergyman he did not rise to prominence. So obscure is his background, in fact, that scholars . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Faith & Doubt, Religion, Living, God & the Divine

POET’S REGION England

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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