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07. Jan 2006

My Spirit

Traherne: My Spirit
  MY naked simple Life was I;	
  That Act so strongly shin'd	
  Upon the earth, the sea, the sky,	
  It was the substance of my mind;	
    The sense itself was I.	        
I felt no dross nor matter in my soul,	
No brims nor borders, such as in a bowl	
We see. My essence was capacity,	
    That felt all things;	
    The thought that springs	       
Therefrom's itself. It hath no other wings	
  To spread abroad, nor eyes to see,	
    Nor hands distinct to feel,	
      Nor knees to kneel;	
But being simple like the Deity	       
  In its own centre is a sphere	
  Not shut up here, but everywhere.	
  It acts not from a centre to	
    Its object as remote,	
  But present is when it doth view,	       
  Being with the Being it doth note	
    Whatever it doth do.	
It doth not by another engine work,	
But by itself; which in the act doth lurk.	
Its essence is transformed into a true	       
    And perfect act.	
    And so exact	
Hath God appeared in this mysterious fact,	
  That 'tis all eye, all act, all sight,	
    And what it please can be,	       
      Not only see,	
Or do; for 'tis more voluble than light,	
  Which can put on ten thousand forms,	
  Being cloth'd with what itself adorns.	
    This made me present evermore	       
    With whatsoe'er I saw.	
  An object, if it were before	
  My eye, was by Dame Nature's law,	
    Within my soul. Her store	
Was all at once within me; all Her treasures	       
Were my immediate and internal pleasures,	
Substantial joys, which did inform my mind.	
    With all she wrought	
    My soul was fraught,	
And every object in my heart a thought	       
  Begot, or was; I could not tell,	
    Whether the things did there	
      Themselves appear,	
Which in my Spirit truly seem'd to dwell;	
  Or whether my conforming mind	       
  Were not even all that therein shin'd.	
  But yet of this I was most sure,	
    That at the utmost length.	
  (So worthy was it to endure)	
  My soul could best express its strength	       
    It was so quick and pure,	
That all my mind was wholly everywhere,	
Whate'er it saw, 'twas ever wholly there;	
The sun ten thousand legions off, was nigh:	
    The utmost star,	       
    Though seen from far,	
Was present in the apple of my eye.	
  There was my sight, my life, my sense,	
    My substance, and my mind;	
      My spirit shin'd	       
Even there, not by a transient influence:	
  The act was immanent, yet there:	
  The thing remote, yet felt even here.	
    O Joy! O wonder and delight!	
    O sacred mystery!	       
  My Soul a Spirit infinite!	
  An image of the Deity!	
    A pure substantial light!	
That Being greatest which doth nothing seem!	
Why, 'twas my all, I nothing did esteem	       
But that alone. A strange mysterious sphere!	
    A deep abyss	
    That sees and is	
The only proper place of Heavenly Bliss.	
  To its Creator 'tis so near	       
    In love and excellence,	
      In life and sense,	
In greatness, worth, and nature; and so dear,	
  In it, without hyperbole,	
  The Son and friend of God we see.	       
  A strange extended orb of Joy,	
    Proceeding from within,	
  Which did on every side, convey	
  Itself, and being nigh of kin	
    To God did every way	       
Dilate itself even in an instant, and	
Like an indivisible centre stand,	
At once surrounding all eternity.	
    'Twas not a sphere,	
    Yet did appear,	       
One infinite. 'Twas somewhat every where,	
  And though it had a power to see	
    Far more, yet still it shin'd	
      And was a mind	
Exerted, for it saw Infinity.	      
  'Twas not a sphere, but 'twas a might	
  Invisible, and yet gave light.	
    O wondrous Self! O sphere of light,	
    O sphere of joy most fair	
  O act, O power infinite;	      
  O subtile and unbounded air!	
    O living orb of sight!	
Thou which within me art, yet me! Thou eye,	
And temple of His whole infinity!	
  O what a world art Thou! A world within!	      
    All things appear,	
    All objects are	
Alive in Thee! Supersubstantial, rare,	
  Above themselves, and nigh of kin	
    To those pure things we find	      
      In His great mind	
Who made the world! Tho' now eclipsed by sin	
  There they are useful and divine,	
  Exalted there they ought to shine.	

Thomas Traherne (1636?-1676)