Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, RIGHT APPREHENSION, by THOMAS TRAHERNE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

RIGHT APPREHENSION, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Give but to things their true esteem
Last Line: Wisdom and wealth couch'd in simplicity.
Subject(s): Simplicity


Give but to things their true esteem,
And those which now so vile and worthless seem
Will so much fill and please the mind,
That we shall there the only riches find.
How wise was I
In infancy!
I then saw in the clearest light;
But corrupt custom is a second night.


Custom: that must a trophy be
When wisdom shall complete her victory;
For trades, opinions, errors, are
False lights, but yet receiv'd to set off ware
More false: we're sold
For worthless gold.
Diana was a goddess made
That silversmiths might have the better trade.


But give to things their true esteem,
And then what's magnified most vile will seem:
What commonly's despis'd, will be
The truest and the greatest rarity.
What men should prize
They all despise;
The best enjoyments are abus'd;
The only wealth by madmen is refus'd.


A globe of earth is better far
Than if it were a globe of gold: a star
Much brighter than a precious stone:
The sun more glorious than a costly throne;
His warming beam,
A living stream
Of liquid pearl, that from a spring
Waters the earth, is a most precious thing.


What newness once suggested to,
Now clearer reason doth improve, my view:
By novelty my soul was taught
At first; but now reality my thought
Inspires: and I
With clarity
Both ways instructed am; by sense,
Experience, reason, and intelligence.


A globe of gold must barren be,
Untill'd and useless: we should neither see
Trees, flowers, grass, or corn
Such a metalline massy globe adorn:
As splendour blinds,
So hardness binds;
No fruitfulness it can produce;
A golden world can't be of any use.


Ah me! This world is more divine:
The wisdom of a God in this doth shine.
What ails mankind to be so cross?
The useful earth they count vile dirt and dross:
And neither prize
Its qualities,
Nor donor's love. I fain would know
How or why men God's goodness disallow.


The earth's rare ductile soil,
Which duly yields unto the ploughman's toil,
Its fertile nature, gives offence;
And its improvement by the influence
Of Heaven; for these
Do not well please,
Because they do upbraid men's harden'd hearts,
And each of them an evidence imparts


Against the owner; whose design
It is that nothing be reputed fine,
Nor held for any excellence,
Of which he hath not in himself the sense.
He too well knows
That no fruit grows
In his obdurateness, nor yields
Obedience to the heavens like the fields:


But being, like his loved gold,
Stiff, barren, hard, impenetrable; tho told
He should be otherwise: he is
Uncapable of any heavenly bliss.
His gold and he
Do well agree;
For he's a formal hypocrite;
Like that unfruitful, yet on th' outside bright.


Ah! Happy infant! Wealthy heir!
How blessed did the Heaven and earth appear
Before thou knew'st there was a thing
Call'd gold! Barren of good; of ill the spring
Beyond compare!
Most quiet were
Those infant-days, when I did see
Wisdom and wealth couch'd in simplicity.

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