Right Apprehension

by Thomas Traherne

Give but to things their true esteem,
And those which now so vile and worthless seem
Will so much fill and please the mind
That we shall there the only riches find.
How wise was I
In infancy!
I then saw in the clearest light;
But corrupt is a second night.

Custom, that must a trophy be
When wisdom shall complete her victory;
For trades, opinions, errors, are
False lights, but yet received to set off ware
More false; we're sold
For worthless gold.
Diana was a goddess made
That silversmiths might have the better trade.

But give to things their true esteem,
And then what's magnified most vile will seem;
What's commonly despised will be
The truest and the greatest rarity.
What men should prize
They all despise:
The best enjoyments are abused;
The only wealth by madmen is refused.

A globe of earth is better far
Than if it were a globe of gold; a star
More brighter than a precious stone;
The sun more glorious than a costly throne —
His warming beam,
A living stream
Of liquid pearl, that from a spring
Waters the earth, is a most precious thing.

What newness once suggested to,
Now clearer reason doth improve my view;
By novelty my soul was taught
At first, but now reality my thought
Inspires; and I
Each way instructed am by sense,
Experience, reason, and intelligence.

A globe of gold must barren be,
Untilled and useless; we should neither see
Trees, flowers, grass, or corn
Such a metalline massy globe adorn;
As splendor blinds
So hardness binds,
No fruitfulness it can produce;
A golden world can't be of any use.

Ah me! this world is more divine;
The wisdom of a God in this doth shine.
What ails mankind to be so cross?
The useful earth they count vile dirt and dross,
And neither prize
Its equalities
Nor Donor's love. I fain would know
How or why men God's goodness disallow.

The earth's rare ductile soil,
Which duly yields unto the plowman's toil
Its fertile nature, gives offense,
And its improvement by the influence
Of Heav'n; for these
Do not well please,
Because they do upbraid men's hardened hearts,
And each of them an evidence imparts.
He too well knows
That no fruit grows
In him, obdurate wretch, who yields
Obedience to Heav'n less than the fields.

But being, like his loved gold,
Stiff, barren, and impen'trable, though told
He should be otherwise, he is
Uncapable of any heavn'ly bliss.
His gold and he
Do well agree,
For he's a formal hypocrite,
Like that, unfruitful, yet on th' outside bright.

Ah, happy infant! wealthy heir!
How blessed did the heaven and earth appear
Before thou knew'st there was a thing
Called gold! barren of good, of ill the spring
Beyond compare!
Most quiet were
Those infant days when I did see
Wisdom and wealth couched in simplicity.

Monadnock Valley Press > Traherne