To the Same Purpose

By Thomas Traherne 1637–1674 Thomas Traherne
To the same purpose: he, not long before
    Brought home from nurse, going to the door
         To do some little thing
         He must not do within,
                With wonder cries,
                As in the skies
He saw the moon, “O yonder is the moon,
    Newly come after me to town,
That shined at Lugwardin but yesternight,
    Where I enjoyed the self-same sight.”

As if it had ev’n twenty thousand faces,
    It shines at once in many places;
         To all the earth so wide
         God doth the stars divide,
                With so much art
                The moon impart,
They serve us all; serve wholly every one
    As if they servèd him alone.
While every single person hath such store,
    ’Tis want of sense that makes us poor.

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Poet Thomas Traherne 1637–1674



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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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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