Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MY SPIRIT, by THOMAS TRAHERNE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

MY SPIRIT, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: My naked simple life was I
Last Line: Exalted there they ought to shine.
Subject(s): Metaphysics


My naked simple life was I.
That act so strongly shin'd
Upon the earth, the sea, the sky,
It was the substance of my mind.
The sense itself was I.
I felt no dross nor matter in my soul,
No brims nor borders, such as in a bowl
We see, my essence was capacity.
That felt all things,
The thought that springs
Therefrom's itself. It hath no other wings
To spread abroad, nor eyes to see,
Nor hands distinct to feel,
Nor knees to kneel:
But being simple like the Deity
In its own centre is a sphere
Not shut up here, but everywhere.


It acts not from a centre to
Its object as remote,
But present is, when it doth view,
Being with the being it doth note.
Whatever it doth do,
It doth not by another engine work,
But by itself: which in the act doth lurk.
Its essence is transform'd into a true
And perfect act.
And so exact
Hath God appear'd in this mysterious fact,
That 'tis all eye, all act, all sight,
And what it please can be,
Not only see,
Or do; for 'tis more voluble than light:
Which can put on ten thousand forms,
Being cloth'd with what itself adorns.


This made me present evermore
With whatsoe'er I saw.
An object, if it were before
My eye, was by Dame Nature's law,
Within my soul. Her store
Was all at once within me; all her treasures
Were my immediate and internal pleasures,
Substantial joys, which did inform my mind.
With all she wrought,
My soul was fraught,
And every object in my heart a thought
Begot, or was; I could not tell,
Whether the things did there
Themselves appear,
Which in my spirit truly seem'd to dwell;
Or whether my conforming mind
Were not even all that therein shin'd.


But yet of this I was most sure,
That at the utmost length
(So worthy was it to endure),
My soul could best express its strength.
It was so quick and pure,
That all my mind was wholly everywhere,
Whate'er it saw, 'twas ever wholly there;
The sun ten thousand legions off, was nigh:
The utmost star,
Tho seen from far,
Was present in the apple of my eye.
There was my sight, my life, my sense,
My substance and my mind.
My spirit shin'd
Even there, not by a transeunt influence.
The act was immanent, yet there.
The thing remote, yet felt even here.


O joy! O wonder, and delight!
O sacred mystery!
My soul a spirit infinite!
An image of the Deity!
A pure substantial light!
That being greatest which doth nothing seem!
Why, 'twas my all, I nothing did esteem
But that alone. A strange mysterious sphere!
A deep abyss
That sees and is
The only proper place of heavenly bliss.
To its Creator 'tis so near
In love and excellence,
In life and sense,
In greatness, worth, and nature; and so dear;
In it, without hyperbole,
The son and friend of God we see.


A strange extended orb of joy,
Proceeding from within,
Which did on every side convey
Itself, and being nigh of kin
To God did every way
Dilate itself even in an instant, and
Like an indivisible centre stand
At once surrounding all eternity.
'Twas not a sphere
Yet did appear
One infinite. 'Twas somewhat everywhere.
And tho it had a power to see
Far more, yet still it shin'd
And was a mind
Exerted for it saw infinity.
'Twas not a sphere, but 'twas a power
Invisible, and yet a bower.


O wondrous self! O sphere of light,
O sphere of joy most fair;
O act, O power infinite;
O subtle and unbounded air!
O living orb of sight!
Thou which within me art, yet me! Thou eye,
And temple of His whole infinity!
O what a world art thou! A world within!
All things appear,
All objects are
Alive in thee! Supersubstantial, rare,
Above themselves, and nigh of kin
To those pure things we find
In His great mind
Who made the world! tho now eclips'd by sin.
There they are useful and divine,
Exalted there they ought to shine.

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