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Poem by Thomas Traherne


Dumbness


Sure Man was born to meditate on things,  
And to contemplate the eternal springs  
Of God and Nature, glory, bliss, and pleasure;  
That life and love might be his Heavenly treasure;  
And therefore speechless made at first, that He
Might in himself profoundly busied be:  
And not vent out, before he hath taâen in  
Those antidotes that guard his soul from sin.  
 Wise Nature made him deaf, too, that He might  
Not be disturbed, while he doth take delight
In inward things, nor be depraved with tongues,  
Nor injured by the errors and the wrongs  
That mortal words convey. For sin and death  
Are most infused by accursed breath,  
That flowing from corrupted entrails, bear
Those hidden plagues which souls may justly fear.  
 This, my dear friends, this was my blessed case;  
For nothing spoke to me but the fair face  
Of Heaven and Earth, before myself could speak,  
I then my Bliss did, when my silence, break.
My non-intelligence of human words  
Ten thousand pleasures unto me affords;  
For while I knew not what they to me said,  
Before their souls were into mine conveyed,  
Before their living vehicle of wind  
Could breathe into me their infected mind,  
Before my thoughts were leavened with theirs, before  
There any mixture was; the Holy Door,  
Or gate of souls was close, and mine being one  
Within itself to me alone was known.
Then did I dwell within a world of light,  
Distinct and separate from all menâs sight,  
Where I did feel strange thoughts, and such things see  
That were, or seemed, only revealed to me,  
There I saw all the world enjoyed by one;
There I was in the world myself alone;  
No business serious seemed but one; no work  
But one was found; and that did in me lurk.  
 Dâye ask me what? It was with clearer eyes  
To see all creatures full of Deities;
Especially oneâs self: And to admire  
The satisfaction of all true desire:  
âTwas to be pleased with all that God hath done;  
âTwas to enjoy even all beneath the sun:  
âTwas with a steady and immediate sense
To feel and measure all the excellence  
Of things; âtwas to inherit endless treasure,  
And to be filled with everlasting pleasure:  
To reign in silence, and to sing alone,  
To see, love, covet, have, enjoy and praise, in one:
To prize and to be ravished; to be true,  
Sincere and single in a blessed view  
Of all His gifts. Thus was I pent within  
A fort, impregnable to any sin:  
Until the avenues being open laid
Whole legions entered, and the forts betrayed:  
Before which time a pulpit in my mind,  
A temple and a teacher I did find,  
With a large text to comment on. No ear  
But eyes themselves were all the hearers there,
And every stone, and every star a tongue,  
And every gale of wind a curious song.  
The Heavens were an oracle, and spake  
Divinity: the Earth did undertake  
The office of a priest; and I being dumb
(Nothing besides was dum , all things did come  
With voices and instructions; but when I  
Had gained a tongue, their power began to die.  
Mine ears let other noises in, not theirs,  
A noise disturbing all my songs and prayers.
My foes pulled down the temple to the ground;  
They my adoring soul did deeply wound  
And casting that into a swoon, destroyed  
The Oracle, and all I there enjoyed:  
And having once inspired me with a sense  
Of foreign vanities, they march out thence  
In troops that cover and despoil my coasts,  
Being the invisible, most hurtful hosts.  
 Yet the first words mine infancy did hear,  
The things which in my dumbness did appear
Preventing all the rest, got such a root  
Within my heart, and stick so close untoât,  
It may be trampled on, but still will grow  
And nutriment to soil itself will owe.  
The first Impressions are Immortal all,
And let mine enemies hoop, cry, roar, or call,  
Yet these will whisper if I will but hear,  
And penetrate the heart, if not the ear.



Thomas Traherne


Thomas Traherne's other poems:
  1. Innocence
  2. To the Same Purpose
  3. The Recovery
  4. A Life of Sabbaths Here Beneath
  5. Joyful Sense and Purity


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