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

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE IMPROVEMENT, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Tis more to recollect, than make. The one
Last Line: But, by their efficacy, all mine own.
Subject(s): God; Mankind; Human Race


'Tis more to recollect, than make. The one
Is but an accident without the other.
We cannot think the world to be the throne
Of God, unless His wisdom shine as brother
Unto His power, in the fabric, so
That we the one may in the other know.


His goodness also must in both appear,
And all the children of His love be found,
In the creation of the starry sphere,
And in the forming of the fruitful ground;
Before we can that happiness descry,
Which is the daughter of the Deity.


His wisdom shines in spreading forth the sky,
His power's great in ordering the sun,
His goodness very marvellous and high
Appears, in every work His hand hath done.
And all His works in their variety,
Even scattered abroad delight the eye.


But neither goodness, wisdom, power, nor love,
Nor happiness itself in things could be
Did not they all in one fair order move,
And jointly by their service end in me.
Had He not made an eye to be the sphere
Of all things, none of these would e'er appear.


His wisdom, goodness, power, as they unite
All things in one, that they may be the treasures
Of one enjoyer, shine in the utmost height
They can attain; and are most glorious pleasures,
When all the universe conjoin'd in one
Exalts a creature, as if that alone.


To bring the moisture of far distant seas
Into a point, to make them present here,
In virtue, not in bulk; one man to please
With all the powers of the highest sphere,
From east, from west, from north and south, to bring
The pleasing influence of everything;


Is far more great than to create them there
Where now they stand; His wisdom more doth shine
In that, His might and goodness more appear,
In recollecting; He is more divine
In making everything a gift to one
Than in the parts of all His spacious throne.


Herein we see a marvellous design,
And apprehending clearly the great skill
Of that great architect, whose love doth shine
In all His works, we find His life and will.
For lively counsels do the Godhead show,
And these His love and goodness make us know.


By wise contrivance He doth all things guide,
And so dispose them, that while they unite,
For man He endless pleasures doth provide,
And shows that happiness is His delight,
His creature's happiness as well as His:
For that in truth He seeks, and 'tis His bliss.


O rapture! Wonder! Ecstasy! Delight!
How great must then His glory be, how great
Our blessedness! How vast and infinite
Our pleasure, how transcendent, how complete,
If we the goodness of our God possess,
And all His joy be in our blessedness!


Almighty power when it is employ'd
For one, that he with glory might be crown'd;
Eternal wisdom when it is enjoy'd
By one, whom all its pleasures do surround,
Produce a creature that must, all his days,
Return the sacrifice of endless praise.


But Oh! the vigour of mine infant sense
Drives me too far: I had not yet the eye,
The apprehension, or intelligence
Of things so very great, divine, and high.
But all things were eternal unto me,
And mine, and pleasing, which mine eye did see.


That was enough at first: eternity,
Infinity, and love were silent joys;
Power, wisdom, goodness, and felicity;
All these which now our care and sin destroys,
By instinct virtually were well discern'd,
And by their representatives were learn'd.


As sponges gather moisture from the earth
(Which seemeth dry) in which they buried are;
As air infecteth salt; so at my birth
All these were unperceiv'd, yet did appear:
Not by reflection, and distinctly known,
But, by their efficacy, all mine own.

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