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Poem by Thomas Traherne

The Apostasy

             One star 
         Is better far 
        Than many precious stones; 
One sun, which is by its own luster seen,
    Is worth ten thousand golden thrones;
    A juicy herb, or spire of grass,
    In useful virtue, native green,
        An em'rald doth surpass, 
    Hath in 't more value, though less seen.

             No wars, 
         Nor mortal jars, 
        Nor bloody feuds, nor coin, 
Nor griefs which those occasions, saw I then;
    Nor wicked thieves which this purloin;
    I had not thoughts that were impure;
    Esteeming both women and men
        God's work, I was secure, 
    And reckoned peace my choicest gem.

             As Eve, 
         I did believe 
        Myself in Eden set, 
Affecting neither gold nor ermined crowns,
    Nor aught else that I need foget;
    No mud did foul my limpid streams,
    Nor mist eclipsed my sun with frowns;
        Set off with heav'nly beams, 
    My joys were meadows, fields, and towns.

             Those things 
         Which cherubins 
        Did not at first behold 
Among God's works, which Adam did not see --
    As robes, and stones enchased in gold,
    Rich cabinets, and such-like fine
    Inventions -- could not ravish me;
        I thought not bowls of wine 
    Needful for my felicity.

             All bliss 
         Consists in this, 
        To do as Adam did, 
And not to know those superficial joys
    Which were from him in Eden hid,
    Those little new-invented things,
    Fine lace and silks, such childish toys
        As ribands are and rings, 
    Or worldly pelf that us destroys.

             For God, 
         Both great and good, 
        The seeds of melancholy 
Created not, but only foolish men,
    Grown mad with customary folly
    Which doth increase their wants, so dote
    As when they elder grow they then
        Such baubles chiefly note; 
    More fools at twenty years than ten.

             But I, 
         I know not why, 
        Did learn among them too, 
At length; and when I once with blemished eyes
    Began their pence and toys to view,
    Drowned in their customs, I became
    A stranger to the shining skies,
        Lost as a dying flame, 
    And hobby-horses brought to prize.

             The sun 
         And moon forgone 
        As if unmade, appear 
No more to me; to God and heaven dead
    I was, as though they never were;
    Upon some useless gaudy book,
    When what I knew of God was fled,
        The child being taught to look, 
    His soul was quickly murtherëd.

             O fine! 
         O most divine! 
        O brave! they cried; and showed 
Some tinsel thing whose glittering did amaze,
    And to their cries its beauty owed;
    Thus I on riches, by degrees,
    Of a new stamp did learn to gaze,
        While all the world for these 
    I lost, my joy turned to a blaze.

Thomas Traherne

Thomas Traherne's other poems:
  1. Shadows in the Water
  2. To the Same Purpose
  3. Sin
  4. Walking
  5. The Recovery

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