by Thomas Traherne


'Tis strange! I saw the skies;
I saw the hills before mine eyes;
The sparrow fly;
The lands that did about me lie;
The real sun, that heavenly eye!
Can closed eyes even in the darkest night
See through their lids, and be inform'd with sight?


The people were to me
As true as those by day I see;
As true the air,
The earth as sweet, as fresh, as fair
As that which did by day repair
Unto my waking sense! Can all the sky,
Can all the world, within my brain-pan lie?


What sacred secret's this,
Which seems to intimate my bliss?
What is there in
The narrow confines of my skin,
That is alive and feels within
When I am dead? Can magnitude possess
An active memory, yet not be less?


May all that I can see
Awake, by night within me be?
My childhood knew
No difference, but all was true,
As real all as what I view;
The world itself was there. 'Twas wondrous strange,
That Heaven and earth should so their place exchange.


Till that which vulgar sense
Doth falsely call experience,
Distinguish'd things:
The ribbons, and the gaudy wings
Of birds, the virtues, and the sins,
That represented were in dreams by night
As really my senses did delight,


Or grieve, as those I saw
By day: things terrible did awe
My soul with fear;
The apparitions seem'd as near
As things could be, and things they were.
Yet were they all by fancy in me wrought,
And all their being founded in a thought.


O what a thing is thought!
Which seems a dream; yea, seemeth nought,
Yet doth the mind
Affect as much as what we find
Most near and true! Sure men are blind,
And can't the forcible reality
Of things that secret are within them see.


Thought! Surely thoughts are true,
They please as much as things can do:
Nay, things are dead,
And in themselves are severed
From souls; nor can they fill the head
Without our thoughts. Thoughts are the real things
From whence all joy, from whence all sorrow springs.

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