Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CIRCULATION, by THOMAS TRAHERNE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE CIRCULATION, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: As fair ideas from the sky
Last Line: And all it doth receive returns again.
Subject(s): Imagination; Soul; Fancy


As fair ideas from the sky,
Or images of things,
Unto a spotless mirror fly,
On unperceived wings;
And lodging there affect the sense,
As if at first they came from thence;
While being there, they richly beautify
The place they fill, and yet communicate
Themselves, reflecting to the seer's eye,
Just such is our estate.
No praise can we return again,
No glory in ourselves possess,
But what derived from without we gain,
From all the mysteries of blessedness.


No man breathes out more vital air
Than he before suck'd in.
Those joys and praises must repair
To us, which 'tis a sin
To bury in a senseless tomb.
An earthly wight must be the heir
Of all those joys the holy angels prize,
He must a king, before a priest become,
And gifts receive, or ever sacrifice.
'Tis blindness makes us dumb.
Had we but those celestial eyes,
Whereby we could behold the sum
Of all His bounties, we should overflow
With praises, did we but their causes know.


All things to circulations owe
Themselves; by which alone
They do exist: they cannot show
A sigh, a word, a groan,
A colour, or a glimpse of light,
The sparkle of a precious stone,
A virtue, or a smell; a lovely sight,
A fruit, a beam, an influence, a tear;
But they another's livery must wear:
And borrow matter first,
Before they can communicate.
Whatever's empty is accurst:
And this doth show that we must some estate
Possess, or never can communicate.


A sponge drinks in that water, which
Is afterwards express'd.
A liberal hand must first be rich:
Who blesseth must be blest.
The thirsty earth drinks in the rain,
The trees suck moisture at their roots,
Before the one can lavish herbs again,
Before the other can afford us fruits.
No tenant can raise corn, or pay his rent,
Nor can even have a lord,
That has no land. No spring can vent,
No vessel any wine afford
Wherein no liquor's put. No empty purse
Can pounds or talents of itself disburse.


Flame that ejects its golden beams,
Sups up the grosser air;
To seas, that pour out their streams
In springs, those streams repair;
Receiv'd ideas make even dreams.
No fancy painteth foul or fair
But by the ministry of inward light,
That in the spirits cherisheth its sight.
The moon returneth light, and some men say
The very sun no ray
Nor influence could have, did it
No foreign aids, no food admit.
The earth no exhalations would afford,
Were not its spirits by the sun restor'd.


All things do first receive, that give.
Only 'tis God above,
That from, and in Himself doth live,
Whose all-sufficient love
Without original can flow
And all the joys and glories show
Which mortal man can take delight to know.
He is the primitive eternal spring,
The endless ocean of each glorious thing.
The soul a vessel is,
A spacious bosom to contain
All the fair treasures of His bliss
Which run like rivers from, into the main,
And all it doth receive returns again.

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