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

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE CITY, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: What structures here among god's works appear
Last Line: More wealth provided, and more high.
Subject(s): Cities; Urban Life


What structures here among God's works appear?
Such wonders Adam ne'er did see
In Paradise among the trees,
No works of art like these,
Nor walls, nor pinnacles, nor houses were.
All these for me,
For me these streets and towers,
These stately temples, and these solid bowers,
My Father rear'd:
For me I thought they thus appear'd.


The city, fill'd with people, near me stood;
A fabric like a court divine,
Of many mansions bright and fair;
Wherein I could repair
To blessings that were common, great, and good:
Yet all did shine
As burnish'd and as new
As if before none ever did them view:
They seem'd to me
Environ'd with eternity.


As if from everlasting they had there
Been built, more gallant than if gilt
With gold, they show'd: nor did I know
That they to hands did owe
Themselves. Immortal they did all appear
Till I knew guilt.
As if the public good
Of all the world for me had ever stood,
They gratified
Me, while the earth they beautified.


The living people that mov'd up and down,
With ruddy cheeks and sparkling eyes;
The music in the churches, which
Were angels' joys (tho pitch
Defil'd me afterwards) did then me crown:
I then did prize
These only. I did love
As do the blessed hosts in Heaven above:
No other pleasure
Had I, nor wish'd for other treasure.


The heavens were the richly studded case
Which did my richer wealth enclose;
No little private cabinet
In which my gems to set
Did I contrive: I thought the whole earth's face
At my dispose:
No confines did include
What I possess'd, no limits there I view'd;
On every side
All endless was which then I spied.


'Tis art that hath the late invention found
Of shutting up in little room
One's boundless expectations: men
Have in a narrow pen
Confin'd themselves: free souls can know no bound;
But still presume
That treasures everywhere
From everlasting hills must still appear,
And be to them
Joys in the new Jerusalem.


We first by nature all things boundless see;
Feel all illimited; and know
No terms or periods: but go on
Throughout the endless throne
Of God, to view His wide eternity;
Even here below
His omnipresence we
Do pry into, that copious treasury.
Tho we are taught
To limit and to bound our thought.


Such treasures as are to be valued more
Than those shut up in chests and tills,
Which are by citizens esteem'd,
To me the people seem'd:
The city doth increase my glorious store,
Which sweetly fills
With choice variety
The place wherein I see the same to be;
And strangely is
A mansion or tower of bliss.


Nor can the city such a soul as mine
Confine; nor be my only treasure:
I must see other things to be
For my felicity
Concurrent instruments, and all combine
To do me pleasure.
And God, to gratify
This inclination, helps me to descry
Beyond the sky
More wealth provided, and more high.

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