Monday, September 27, 2010



Flight is but preparative. The sight
Is deep and infinite,
Ah me! 'tis all the glory, love, light, space,
Joy, beauty and variety
That doth adorn the Godhead's dwelling-place;
'Tis all that eye can see.
Even trades themselves seen in celestial light,
And cares and sins and woes are bright.

Order the beauty even of beauty is,
It is the rule of bliss,
The very life and form and cause of pleasure;
Which if we do not understand,
Ten thousand heaps of vain confused treasure
Will but oppress the land.
In blessedness itself we that shall miss,
Being blind, which is the cause of bliss.

First then behold the world as thine, and well
Note that where thou dost dwell.
See all the beauty of the spacious case,
Lift up thy pleas'd and ravisht eyes,
Admire the glory of the Heavenly place
And all its blessings prize.
That sight well seen thy spirit shall prepare,
The first makes all the other rare.

Men's woes shall be but foils unto thy bliss,
Thou once enjoying this:
Trades shall adorn and beautify the earth,
Their ignorance shall make thee bright;
Were not their griefs Democritus his mirth?
Their faults shall keep thee right:
All shall be thine, because they all conspire
To feed and make thy glory higher.

To see a glorious fountain and an end,
To see all creatures tend
To thy advancement, and so sweetly close
In thy repose: to see them shine
In use, in worth, in service, and even foes
Among the rest made thine:
To see all these unite at once in thee
Is to behold felicity.

To see the fountain is a blessed thing,
It is to see the King
Of Glory face to face: but yet the end,
The glorious, wondrous end is more;
And yet the fountain there we comprehend,
The spring we there adore:
For in the end the fountain best is shown,
As by effects the cause is known.

From one, to one, in one to see all things,
To see the King of Kings
But once in two; to see His endless treasures
Made all mine own, myself the end
Of all his labours! 'Tis the life of pleasures!
To see myself His friend!
Who all things finds conjoined in Him alone,
Sees and enjoys the Holy One.

Thomas Traherne - (1637-1674)


Thomas Traherne, the son of a shoemaker, was born in 1637 in Hereford, England. He received his education from the University of Oxford and was ordained as an Anglican clergyman in 1660. Traherne first served in a parish near Credenhill and later became the chaplain to Sir Orlando Bridgeman, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal.

Further biographical information and a brief description of Traherne's works may be found at the links above and below.

Traherne's work was personally influential on the thought of such notables as Thomas Merton, Dorothy Sayers, Elizabeth Jennings and C. S. Lewis, who called Centuries of Meditations "almost the most beautiful book in English."

From Wikipedia.


JCF said...

Are any of his works hymns in our (1982) hymnal?

Grandmère Mimi said...

Am I Wikipedia, JCF? I did a quick search and found no mention of Traherne in the 1982 Hymnal, but I could have missed a reference.

Tim Chesterton said...

Lewis also reckoned that 'Centuries of Meditations' was one of the best devotional books going.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tim, I saw that bit of information. Have you read the "Meditations"?

C.W.S. said...

Traherne's poetry does not seem to have been written in the meters that lend themselves to being adapted into hymns. The example here could conceivably be sung, though not to any known tune - it would need a new one.

Poking around a bit I find only one reference to a Traherne text in a hymnbook, his poem called The Rapture, which was in Hymns and Hymn Tunes in the English Metrical Psalters (1966), which suggests that it appeared in some much older collection. Again, it's written in an unusual meter which would not fit any tune I know, but apparently there must have been one written for it that some Anglican ancestors must have sung.

Grandmère Mimi said...

C.W.S, I agree Traherne's poems do not lend themselves well to adaptation to hymns

Thanks for your information. You are the walking encyclopedia. ;-)