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

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE DEMONSTRATION, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: The highest things are easiest to be shown
Last Line: To whom in them himself, and all things tend.
Subject(s): God; Truth


The highest things are easiest to be shown,
And only capable of being known.
A mist involves the eye,
While in the middle it doth lie;
And till the ends of things are seen,
The way's uncertain that doth stand between.
As in the air we see the clouds
Like winding sheets, or shrouds:
Which tho they nearer are obscure
The sun, which higher far, is far more pure.


Its very brightness makes it near the eye,
Tho many thousand leagues beyond the sky.
Its beams by violence
Invade, and ravish distant sense.
Only extremes and heights are known;
No certainty, where no perfection's shown.
Extremities of blessedness
Compel us to confess
A God indeed. Whose excellence,
In all His woks, must needs exceed all sense.


And for this cause incredibles alone
May be by demonstration to us shown.
Those things that are most bright
Sun-like appear in their own light.
And nothing's truly seen that's mean:
Be it a sand, an acorn, or a bean,
It must be cloth'd with endless glory,
Before its perfect story
(Be the spirit ne'er so clear)
Can in its causes and its ends appear.


What can be more incredible than this,
Where may we find a more profound abyss?
What heavenly height can be
Transcendent to this summity!
What more desirable object can
Be offer'd to the soul of hungering man!
His gifts as they to us come down
Are infinite, and crown
The soul with strange fruitions; yet
Returning from us they more value get.


And what than this can be more plain and clear,
What truth than this more evident appear!
The Godhead cannot prize
The sun at all, nor yet the skies,
Or air, or earth, or trees, or seas,
Or stars, unless the soul of man they please.
He neither sees with human eyes
Nor needs Himself seas, skies,
Or earth, or anything: He draws
No breath, nor eats or drinks by nature's laws.


The joy and pleasure which His soul doth take
In all His works is for His creatures' sake.
So great a certainty
We in this holy doctrine see
That there could be no worth at all
In anything material, great or small,
Were not some creature more alive,
Whence it might worth derive.
God is the spring whence things came forth,
Souls are the fountains of their real worth.


The joy and pleasure which His soul doth take
In all His works is for His creatures' sake.
Yet doth He take delight
That's altogether infinite
In them even as they from Him come.
For such His love and goodness is, the sum
Of all His happiness doth seem,
At least in His esteem,
In that delight and joy to lie
Which is His blessed creatures' melody.


In them He sees, and feels, and smells, and lives,
In them affected is to whom He gives:
In them ten thousand ways,
He all his works again enjoys,
All things from Him to Him proceed
By them; are His in them: as if indeed
His Godhead did itself exceed.
To them He all conveys;
Nay even Himself: He is the end
To whom in them Himself, and all things tend.

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