Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Traherne’

A Sensible Emptiness

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Below is the late Richard Wilbur’s metaphorical exploration of one sentence of Thomas Traherne’s: “”Life without objects is a sensible emptiness, and that is a greater misery than death or nothing.” (Second Century, Meditation 65) The little we know of Traherne’s life reveals a man of fascinating contradictions: a kind and self-effacing mystical poet full of childlike wonder at creation, whose only work published in his lifetime was a prose polemic rife with conspiracy theories and dripping with white-hot rage at everything and everyone Catholic. Largely unknown to or ignored by scholars until the twentieth century, much of Traherne’s work remains unpublished. In this poem, Richard Wilbur captures the felicitous spirit of Traherne’s verse, described by one critic as “bafflingly simple.”

A World Without Objects is a Sensible Emptiness

The tall camels of the spirit
Steer for their deserts, passing the last groves loud
With the sawmill shrill of the locust, to the whole honey of the arid
Sun. They are slow, proud,