Priest + Poet
27 September 1674
From the Satucket Lectionary
Traherne was an inconsequential literary figure during his life, whose works were unappreciated until long after his death. He led a humble, devout life, largely sheltered from the literary community. Only one of his works, Roman Forgeries (1673), was published in his lifetime. Christian Ethicks (1675) followed soon after his death, and later A Serious and Patheticall Contemplation of the Mercies of God (1699); but after that much of his finest work was lost, corrupted or misattributed to other writers.
The discoveries responsible for his renewed vindication as a theologian, beside the poems, are four complete Centuries of Meditation, short paragraphs embodying reflexions on religion and Christian morals. Some of these, evidently autobiographical in character, describe a childhood from which the “glory and the dream” was slow to depart. Of the power of nature to inform the mind with beauty, and the ecstatic harmony of a child with the natural world, the earlier poems, which contain his best work, are full. In their manner, as in their matter, they remind the reader of William Blake and William Wordsworth. The poems on childhood may well have been inspired by Vaughan’s lines entitled The Retreat. He quotes George Herbert‘s “Longing” in the newly discovered Lambeth Manuscript. His poetry is essentially metaphysical and his workmanship is uneven, but the collection contains passages of great beauty.
His poems were published in Poems (1903) and Centuries of Meditations (1908). The Select Meditations were only published in 1997. In 1996 and 1997, another of Traherne’s manuscripts were discovered in the Folger Library in Washington DC by Julia Smith and Laetitia Yeandle. A second was discovered in Lambeth Palace Library in London by Jeremy Maule. The Ceremonial Law, from the Folger library, is an unfinished epic poem of over 1,800 lines. The Lambeth Manuscipt contains four, and a fragmentary fifth, mainly prose works known as: Inducements to Retiredness, A Sober View of Dr Twisse, Seeds of Eternity, The Kingdom of God and the fragment Love. … These two finds are a primary contributing factor to why Traherne is now being considered as much as a theologian as a poet.
— more at Wikipedia