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Thomas Traherne (1637-1674)

Innocence


              1But that which most I wonder at, which most
              2I did esteem my bliss, which most I boast,
              3And ever shall enjoy, is that within
              4I felt no stain, nor spot of sin.

              5No darkness then did overshade,
              6    But all within was pure and bright,
              7No guilt did crush, nor fear invade
              8    But all my soul was full of light.

              9A joyful sense and purity
            10    Is all I can remember;
            11  The very night to me was bright,
            12    'Twas summer in December.

            13A serious meditation did employ
            14My soul within, which taken up with joy
            15Did seem no outward thing to note, but fly
            16All objects that do feed the eye.

            17While it those very objects did
            18    Admire, and prize, and praise, and love,
            19Which in their glory most are hid,
            20    Which presence only doth remove.

            21    Their constant daily presence I
            22Rejoicing at, did see;
            23    And that which takes them from the eye
            24Of others, offer'd them to me.

            25No inward inclination did I feel
            26To avarice or pride: my soul did kneel
            27In admiration all the day. No lust, nor strife,
            28Polluted then my infant life.

            29No fraud nor anger in me mov'd,
            30    No malice, jealousy, or spite;
            31All that I saw I truly lov'd.
            32    Contentment only and delight

            33    Were in my soul. O Heav'n! what bliss
            34Did I enjoy and feel!
            35    What powerful delight did this
            36Inspire! for this I daily kneel.

            37Whether it be that nature is so pure,
            38And custom only vicious; or that sure
            39God did by miracle the guilt remove,
            40And make my soul to feel his love

            41So early: or that 'twas one day,
            42    Wherein this happiness I found;
            43Whose strength and brightness so do ray,
            44    That still it seems me to surround;

            45What ere it is, it is a light
            46    So endless unto me
            47That I a world of true delight
            48    Did then and to this day do see.

            49That prospect was the gate of Heav'n, that day
            50The ancient light of Eden did convey
            51Into my soul: I was an Adam there
            52A little Adam in a sphere

            53Of joys! O there my ravish'd sense
            54    Was entertain'd in Paradise,
            55And had a sight of innocence
            56    Which was beyond all bound and price.

            57An antepast of Heaven sure!
            58    I on the earth did reign;
            59Within, without me, all was pure;
            60    I must become a child again.

Notes

57] antepast: foretaste.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Thomas Traherne, Poetical Works, ed. Bertram Dobell (London: published by the editor, 1903). PR 3736 T71903 Victoria College Library
First publication date: 1903
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP.1.475; RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/8

Rhyme: abab


Other poems by Thomas Traherne