Saturday, October 13, 2012


"THOMAS TRAHERNE (1637-74) was the son of a shopmaker in Hereford. It has been supposed that he and his younger brother Philip were orphaned at an early age and brought up, in part, by a wealthy innkeeper named Philip Traherne, who was twice mayor of Hereford and who may have been their uncle. Both boys received a good education, and Thomas graduated from Brasenose College, Oxford, in October 1656. In the following year he was appointed rector of Credenhill, Herefordshire, but probably did not take up residence there until 1664. He was ordained in 1660 and took his MA from Oxford in 1661. At Credenhill he is likely to have joined the religious circle at nearby Kingston centering on Susanna Hopton, for whom he may have written his meditations now known as the Centuries. In 1669 he took his B.D. at Brasenose and became chaplain to the Lord Keeper Sir Orlando Bridgeman, in whose household at London and Teddington he spent the rest of his life. many of Traherne's works, including the Centuries, remained undiscovered until the end of the nineteenth century. During his lifetime, however, he published Roman Forgeries (1673), which exposes the falsifying of ecclesiastical documents by the Church of Rome, and prepared Christian Ethics (1675) for the press. At the time of his death he was at work on a vast encyclopedic project called Commentaries of Heaven, which was intended to show 'ALL THINGS. . .to be Objects of Happiness'. The long-lost manuscript of this unfinished work was recovered in 1967 and identified in 1982. But his major achievements remain the Centuries, the poems and the Thanksgivings, which reveal him as among the first English writers to respond imaginatively to new ideas about infinite space. The boundless potentiality of the human mind and spirit is his recurrent theme, as is the need for adult man to regain the wonder and simplicity of the child."

(Penguin Books, 1991)

The Apprehension

If this I did not every moment see,

And  if my thoughts did stray

At any time, or idly play,

And fix on other objects, yet

This apprehension set

In me

Was all my whole felicity.