Thomas Traherne MA (/trəˈhɑːrn/; 1636 or 1637 – ca. 27 September 1674) was an English poet, clergyman, theologian, and religious writer. Little is known about his life. Traherne's poetry, often associated with that of the metaphysical poets, was lost after his death—kept among the private papers of the Skipps family of Ledbury, Herefordshire, until 1888. When, in the winter of 1896-1897, two manuscript volumes containing his poems and meditations were discovered by chance for sale in a street bookstall, the poems were initially thought to be the work of Traherne's contemporary Henry Vaughan (1621-1695). Only through research was his identity uncovered and his work prepared for publication under his name. As a result, much of his work was not published until the first decade of the 20th century.
Venerated as a saint by the Anglican Church, Traherne was equally accomplished as a theologian and a poet. His prose works on matters of religion include Roman Forgeries (1673), Christian Ethics (1675), and A Serious and Patheticall Contemplation of the Mercies of God (1699). The work for which hs is best known, the Centuries of Meditations—a collection of short paragraphs (meditations) reflecting on Christian life and ministry, philosophy, happiness, desire and childhood—was first published in 1908. His poetry was published in The Poetical Works of Thomas Traherne, B.D. (1903) and Poems of Felicity (1910).
Traherne's writings frequently explore the glory of creation and what he perceived as his intimate relationship with God. His writing conveys an ardent, almost childlike love of God, similar to that of the 19th-century British poet and cleric Gerard Manley Hopkins. His love for the natural world is frequently expressed in his works by a treatment of nature that evokes Romanticism—two centuries before the Romantic movement.
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“So that with much ado I was corrupted, and made to learn the dirty devices of this world.
Which now I unlearn, and become, as it were, a little child again that I may enter into the Kingdom of God.”
—Thomas Traherne (16361674)