The Salutation

By Thomas Traherne 1637–1674 Thomas Traherne
These little limbs,
    These eyes and hands which here I find,
These rosy cheeks wherewith my life begins,
    Where have ye been? behind
What curtain were ye from me hid so long?
Where was, in what abyss, my speaking tongue?

         When silent I   
    So many thousand, thousand years
Beneath the dust did in a chaos lie,
    How could I smiles or tears,
Or lips or hands or eyes or ears perceive?
Welcome ye treasures which I now receive.

         I that so long
    Was nothing from eternity,
Did little think such joys as ear or tongue
    To celebrate or see:
Such sounds to hear, such hands to feel, such feet,
Beneath the skies on such a ground to meet.

         New burnished joys,
    Which yellow gold and pearls excel!
Such sacred treasures are the limbs in boys,
    In which a soul doth dwell;
Their organizèd joints and azure veins
More wealth include than all the world contains.

         From dust I rise,
    And out of nothing now awake;
These brighter regions which salute mine eyes,
    A gift from God I take.
The earth, the seas, the light, the day, the skies,
The sun and stars are mine if those I prize.

         Long time before
    I in my mother’s womb was born,
A God, preparing, did this glorious store,
    The world, for me adorn.
Into this Eden so divine and fair,
So wide and bright, I come His son and heir.

         A stranger here
    Strange things doth meet, strange glories see;
Strange treasures lodged in this fair world appear,
    Strange all and new to me;
But that they mine should be, who nothing was,
That strangest is of all, yet brought to pass.

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Poet Thomas Traherne 1637–1674


Subjects Living, Birth & Birthdays, Death, Religion, God & the Divine, Christianity


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, Birth & Birthdays, Death, Religion, God & the Divine, Christianity


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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