Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN INFANT-EYE, by THOMAS TRAHERNE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

AN INFANT-EYE, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: A simple light from all contagion free
Last Line: Inviting yet, and waiting thy command.
Subject(s): Innocence; Vision


A simple light from all contagion free,
A beam that's purely spiritual, an eye
That's altogether virgin, things doth see
Even like unto the Deity:
That is, it shineth in an heavenly sense,
And round about (unmov'd) its light dispense.


The visive rays are beams of light indeed,
Refined, subtle, piercing, quick and pure;
And as they do the sprightly winds exceed,
Are worthy longer to endure:
They far out-shoot the reach of grosser air,
Which with such excellence may not compare.


But being once debas'd, they soon become
Less active than they were before; and then
After distracting objects out they run,
Which make us wretched men.
A simple infant's eye is such a treasure
That when 'tis lost, w' enjoy no real pleasure.


O that my sight had ever simple been!
And never fall'n into a grosser state!
Then might I every object still have seen
(As now I see a golden plate)
In such an heavenly light, as to descry
In it, or by it, my felicity.


As easily might soar aloft as move
On earth; and things remote as well as nigh
My joys should be; and could discern the love
Of God in my tranquillity.
But streams are heavy which the winds can blow:
Whose grosser body must needs move below.


The East was once my joy; and so the skies
And stars at first I thought; the West was mine:
Then praises from the mountains did arise
As well as vapours: every vine
Did bear me fruit; the fields my gardens were;
My larger store-house all the hemisphere.


But wantonness and avarice got in
And spoil'd my wealth (I never can complain
Enough, till I am purged from my sin
And made an infant once again)
So that my feeble and disabled sense
Reach'd only near things with its influence.


A house, a woman's hand, a piece of gold,
A feast, a costly suit, a beauteous skin
That vied with ivory, I did behold;
And all my pleasure was in sin:
Who had at first with simple infant-eyes
Beheld as mine even all eternities.


O die! die unto all that draws thine eye
From its first objects: let not fading pleasures
Infect thy mind; but see thou carefully
Bid them adieu. Return: thy treasures
Abide thee still, and in their places stand
Inviting yet, and waiting thy command.

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