By Thomas Traherne 1637–1674 Thomas Traherne
News from a foreign country came,
As if my treasures and my joys lay there;
         So much it did my heart inflame,
’Twas wont to call my soul into mine ear;
                Which thither went to meet
                        Th’ approaching sweet,
                And on the threshold stood
         To entertain the secret good;
                        It hover’d there
                As if ’twould leave mine ear,
         And was so eager to embrace
         Th’ expected tidings as they came,
         That it could change its dwelling place
                To meet the voice of fame.

         As if new tidings were the things
Which did comprise my wished unknown treasure,
         Or else did bear them on their wings,
With so much joy they came, with so much pleasure,
                My soul stood at the gate
                        To recreate
                Itself with bliss, and woo
         Its speedier approach; a fuller view
                        It fain would take,
                Yet journeys back would make
         Unto my heart, as if ’twould fain
         Go out to meet, yet stay within,
         Fitting a place to entertain
                And bring the tidings in.

         What sacred instinct did inspire
My soul in childhood with an hope so strong?
         What secret force mov’d my desire
T’ expect my joys beyond the seas, so young?
                Felicity I knew
                        Was out of view;
                And being left alone,
         I thought all happiness was gone
                        From earth; for this
                I long’d for absent bliss,
         Deeming that sure beyond the seas,
         Or else in something near at hand
         Which I knew not, since nought did please
                I knew, my bliss did stand.

         But little did the infant dream
That all the treasures of the world were by,
         And that himself was so the cream
And crown of all which round about did lie.
                Yet thus it was! The gem,
                        The diadem,
                The ring enclosing all
         That stood upon this earthen ball;
                        The heav’nly eye,
                Much wider than the sky,
         Wherein they all included were;
         The love, the soul, that was the king
         Made to possess them, did appear
                A very little thing.

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Poet Thomas Traherne 1637–1674


Subjects God & the Divine, Travels & Journeys, Activities, Religion, Faith & Doubt

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza


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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SUBJECT God & the Divine, Travels & Journeys, Activities, Religion, Faith & Doubt


Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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