Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CHRISTENDOM, by THOMAS TRAHERNE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

CHRISTENDOM, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: When first mine infant-ear
Last Line: Make up the king of glory's diadem.
Subject(s): Christianity; Imagination; Fancy


When first mine infant-ear
Of Christendom did hear,
I much admir'd what kind of place or thing
It was of which the folk did talk:
What coast, what region, what therein
Did move, or might be seen to walk.
My great desire
Like ardent fire
Did long to know what things did lie behind
That mystic name, to which mine eye was blind.


Some depth it did conceal,
Which, till it did reveal
Itself to me, no quiet, peace, or rest,
Could I by any means attain;
My earnest thoughts did me molest
Till someone should the thing explain:
I thought it was
A glorious place,
Where souls might dwell in all delight and bliss;
So thought, yet fear'd lest I the truth might miss:


Among ten thousand things,
Gold, silver, cherub's wings,
Pearls, rubies, diamonds, a church with spires,
Masks, stages, games and plays,
That then might suit my young desires,
Fine feathers, farthings, holidays,
Cards, music, dice,
So much in price;
A city did before mine eyes present
Itself, wherein there reigned sweet content.


A town beyond the seas,
Whose prospect much did please,
And to my soul so sweetly raise delight
As if a long expected joy,
Shut up in that transforming sight,
Would into me itself convey;
And blessedness
I there possess,
As if that city stood on real ground,
And all the profit mine which there was found.


Whatever force me led,
My spirit sweetly fed
On these conceits: that 'twas a city strange,
Wherein I saw no gallant inns,
No markets, shops or old exchange,
No childish trifles, useless things;
No wall, nor bounds
That town surrounds;
But as if all its streets even endless were,
Without or gate or wall it did appear.


Things native sweetly grew,
Which there mine eye did view,
Plain, simple, cheap, on either side the street,
Which was exceeding fair and wide;
Sweet mansions there mine eyes did meet;
Green trees the shaded doors did hide.
My chiefest joys
Were girls and boys
That in those streets still up and down did play,
Which crown'd the town with constant holiday.


A sprightly pleasant time
(Even summer in its prime)
Did gild the trees, the houses, children, skies,
And made the city all divine;
It ravished my wondering eyes
To see the sun so brightly shine:
The heat and light
Seem'd in my sight
With such a dazzling lustre shed on them,
As made me think 'twas th' new Jerusalem.


Beneath the lofty trees
I saw, of all degrees,
Folk calmly sitting in their doors; while some
Did standing with them kindly talk;
Some smile, some sing, or what was done
Observe, while others by did walk;
They view'd the boys
And girls, their joys,
The streets adorning with their angel-faces,
Themselves diverting in those pleasant places.


The streets like lanes did seem,
Not pav'd with stones, but green,
Which with red clay did partly mix'd appear;
'Twas holy ground of great esteem;
The springs choice liveries did wear
Of verdant grass that grew between
The purling streams,
Which golden beams
Of light did varnish, coming from the sun,
By which to distant realms was service done.


In fresh and cooler rooms
Retir'd they dine: perfumes
They wanted not, having the pleasant shade
And peace to bless their house within,
By sprinkled waters cooler made,
For those incarnate cherubin.
This happy place,
With all the grace,
The joy and beauty which did it beseem,
Did ravish me and heighten my esteem.


That here to raise desire
All objects do conspire,
People in years, and young enough to play,
Their streets of houses, common peace,
In one continued holy day
Whose gladsome mirth shall never cease:
Since these become
My Christendom,
What learn I more than that Jerusalem
Is mine, as 'tis my Maker's, choicest gem.


Before I was aware
Truth did to me appear,
And represented to my virgin-eyes
Th' unthought of joys and treasures
Wherein my bliss and glory lies;
My God's delight (which gives me measure),
His turtledove,
Is peace and love
In towns: for holy children, maids, and men
Make up the King of Glory's diadem.

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