From “Innocence” (1674)
But that which most I wonder at, which most
I did esteem my bliss, which most I boast,
And ever shall enjoy, is that within
I felt no stain, nor spot of sin.
No darkness then did overshade,
But all within was pure and bright,
No guilt did crush, nor fear invade
But all my soul was full of light.
A joyful sense and purity
Is all I can remember;
The very night to me was bright,
’Twas summer in December.
A serious meditation did employ
My soul within, which taken up with joy
Did seem no outward thing to note, but fly
All objects that do feed the eye.
While it those very objects did
Admire, and prize, and praise, and love,
Which in their glory most are hid,
Which presence only doth remove.
Their constant daily presence I
Rejoicing at, did see;
And that which takes them from the eye
Of others, offer’d them to me.
No inward inclination did I feel
To avarice or pride: my soul did kneel
In admiration all the day. No lust, nor strife,
Polluted then my infant life.
No fraud nor anger in me mov’d,
No malice, jealousy, or spite;
All that I saw I truly lov’d.
Contentment only and delight
Were in my soul. O Heav’n! what bliss
Did I enjoy and feel!
What powerful delight did this
Inspire! for this I daily kneel.
Whether it be that nature is so pure,
And custom only vicious; or that sure
God did by miracle the guilt remove,
And make my soul to feel his love
So early: or that ’twas one day,
Wherein this happiness I found;
Whose strength and brightness so do ray,
That still it seems me to surround;
What ere it is, it is a light
So endless unto me
That I a world of true delight
Did then and to this day do see.
That prospect was the gate of Heav’n, that day
The ancient light of Eden did convey
Into my soul: I was an Adam there
A little Adam in a sphere
Of joys! O there my ravish’d sense
Was entertain’d in Paradise,
And had a sight of innocence
Which was beyond all bound and price.
An antepast of Heaven sure!
I on the earth did reign;
Within, without me, all was pure;
I must become a child again.
Thomas Traherne (ca. 1636-1674) was an Anglican priest and metaphysical poet, who had a short and obscure ministry. His poems and Centuries of Meditation, a book of short devotional texts, were discovered in manuscript form in 1896. Since their publication, they have been widely admired for their warm mystical piety and appreciation for the goodness and beauty of creation. He is commemorated on the liturgical calendars of several Anglican churches on September 27 and October 10.