A Serious and Pathetical Contemplation of the Mercies of God

By Thomas Traherne 1637–1674 Thomas Traherne

For all the mysteries, engines, instruments, wherewith the world is filled, which we are able to frame and use to thy glory.

For all the trades, variety of operations, cities, temples, streets, bridges, mariner's compass, admirable picture, sculpture, writing, printing, songs and music; wherewith the world is beautified and adorned.

       Much more for the regent life,
               And power of perception,
                      Which rules within.
       That secret depth of fathomless consideration
               That receives the information
                      Of all our senses,
       That makes our centre equal to the heavens,
               And comprehendeth in itself the magnitude of the world;
                      The involv’d mysteries
                              Of our common sense;
                      The inaccessible secret
                              Of perceptive fancy;
                      The repository and treasury
                              Of things that are past;
                      The presentation of things to come;
                              Thy name be glorified
                              For evermore.

                              O miracle
                                     Of divine goodness!
                      O fire! O flame of zeal, and love, and joy!
               Ev’n for our earthly bodies, hast thou created all things.
                                                 { visible
               All things    { material
                                                 { sensible
               Bodies celestial,
               Bodies terrestrial,
               The four elements,
               Volatile spirits,
       Trees, herbs, and flowers,
               The influences of heaven,
       Clouds, vapors, wind,
               Dew, rain, hail and snow,
       Light and darkness, night and day,
               The seasons of the year.
Springs, rivers, fountains, oceans,
       Gold, silver, and precious stones.
               Corn, wine, and oil,
       The sun, moon, and stars,
               Cities, nations, kingdoms.
And the bodies of men, the greatest treasures of all,
               For each other.
What then, O Lord, hast thou intended for our
Souls, who givest to our bodies such glorious things!

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Poet Thomas Traherne 1637–1674


Subjects Living, Religion, Arts & Sciences, God & the Divine, Philosophy


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 Living, Religion, Arts & Sciences, God & the Divine, Philosophy


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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