Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
The Choice
By Thomas Traherne (1637?–1674)
 
WHEN 1 first Eternity stoop’d down to nought
  And in the Earth its likeness sought,
When first it out of nothing fram’d the skies,
  And form’d the moon and sun
That we might see what it had done,        5
      It was so wise
      That it did prize
Things truly greatest, brightest, fairest, best,
  All which it made, and left the rest.
 
Then did it take such care about the Truth,        10
  Its daughter, that even in her youth,
Her face might shine upon us, and be known,
      That by a better fate,
  It other toys might antedate
      As soon as shewn;        15
      And be our own,
While we were hers; and that a virgin love
  Her best inheritance might prove.
 
Thoughts undefiled, simple, naked, pure;
    Thoughts worthy ever to endure,        20
Our first and disengagèd thoughts it loves,
    And therefore made the truth,
  In infancy and tender youth
      So obvious to
      Our easy view        25
That it doth prepossess our Soul, and proves
  The cause of what it all ways moves.
 
By merit and desire it doth allure:
  For truth is so divine and pure,
So rich and acceptable, being seen,        30
    (Not parted, but in whole)
  That it doth draw and force the soul,
      As the great Queen
      Of bliss, between
Whom and the soul, no one pretender ought        35
  Thrust in to captivate a thought.
 
Hence did Eternity contrive to make
    The truth so fair for all our sake
That being truth, and fair and easy too,
      While it on all doth shine,        40
    We might by it become divine,
      Being led to woo
      The thing we view,
And as chaste virgins early with it join,
  That with it we might likewise shine.        45
 
Eternity doth give the richest things
  To every man, and makes all Kings.
The best and richest things it doth convey
    To all, and every one,
  It raised me unto a throne!        50
      Which I enjoy,
      In such a way,
That truth her daughter is my chiefest bride,
  Her daughter truth’s my chiefest pride.
 
All mine! And seen so easily! How great, how blest!        55
  How soon am I of all possest!
My infancy no sooner opes its eyes,
    But straight the spacious Earth
  Abounds with joy, peace, glory, mirth,
      And being wise        60
      The very skies,
And stars do mine become; being all possest
  Even in that way that is the best.
 
Note 1. From the Poetical Works of Thomas Traherne, ed. by Bertram Dobell, London, 1903. [back]
 
 
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