Thomas Traherne

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Thomas Traherne (1636 or 1637 – c. September 27 1674) was an English clergyman, mystical writer and poet, sometimes seen as belonging to the Metaphysical school though he belonged to a later generation than most of its other members. Almost all of his works remained unpublished until the 20th century.


  • A stranger here
    Strange things doth meet, strange glories see;
    Strange treasures lodg'd 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.
    • "The Salutation", stanza 7; The Poetical Works of Thomas Traherne, B.D. (London: Bertram Dobell, 1903) p. 3.
  • Order the beauty even of beauty is,
    It is the rule of bliss,
    The very life and form and cause of pleasure.
    • "The Vision", stanza 2; The Poetical Works of Thomas Traherne, B.D. (London: Bertram Dobell, 1903) p. 20.
  • Strange is the vigour in a brave man's soul. The strength of his spirit and his irresistible power, the greatness of his heart and the height of his condition, his mighty confidence and contempt of danger, his true security and repose in himself, his liberty to dare and do what he pleaseth, his alacrity in the midst of fears, his invincible temper, are advantages which make him master of fortune.
    • Christian Ethicks (1675); cited from Bertram Dobell (ed.) The Poetical Works of Thomas Traherne, B.D. (London: Bertram Dobell, 1903) p. lvii.
  • Some unknown joys there be
    Laid up in store for me.
    • Shadows in the Water.

Centuries of Meditations

  • An empty book is like an infant's soul, in which anything may be written. It is capable of all things, but containeth nothing.
    • First Century, sect. 1.
  • As nothing is more easy than to think, so nothing is more difficult than to think well.
    • First Century, sect. 8.
  • You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars: and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world.
    • First Century, sect. 29.
  • The world is a mirror of infinite beauty, yet no man sees it. It is a Temple of Majesty, yet no man regards it. It is a region of Light and Peace, did not man disquiet it. It is the Paradise of God.
    • First Century, sect. 31.
  • All appeared new, and strange at first, inexpressibly rare and delightful and beautiful. I was a little stranger, which at my entrance into the world was saluted and surrounded with innumerable joys. My knowledge was Divine. I knew by intuition those things which since my Apostasy, I collected again by the highest reason.
    • Third Century, sect. 2.
  • The corn was orient and immortal wheat, which never should be reaped, nor was ever sown. I thought it had stood from everlasting to everlasting.
    • Third Century, sect. 3.
  • The Men! O what venerable and reverend creatures did the aged seem! Immortal Cherubims! And young men glittering and sparkling Angels, and maids strange seraphic pieces of life and beauty! Boys and girls tumbling in the street, and playing, were moving jewels. I knew not that they were born or should die; But all things abided eternally as they were in their proper places.
    • Third Century, sect. 3.
  • By this you may see who are the rude and barbarous Indians: For verily there is no savage nation under the cope of Heaven, that is more absurdly barbarous than the Christian World. They that go naked and drink water and live upon roots are like Adam, or Angels in comparison of us.
    • Third Century, sect. 12.
  • To think the world therefore a general Bedlam, or place of madmen, and oneself a physician, is the most necessary point of present wisdom.
    • Fourth Century, sect. 20.
  • Had we not loved ourselves at all, we could never have been obliged to love anything. So that self-love is the basis of all love.
    • Fourth Century, sect. 55.


  • Why is this soe long detaind in a dark manuscript, that if printed would be a Light to the World, & a Universal Blessing?
    • Anonymous 17th century comment on the flyleaf of the Lambeth Manuscript of Traherne’s works; cited from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) vol. 55, p. 208.
  • At present I'm re-reading Traherne's Centuries of Meditations which I think almost the most beautiful book (in prose, I mean, excluding poets) in English.
Wikipedia has an article about: