Thomas Traherne

Writer, Author

1636 – 1674


Who was Thomas Traherne?

Thomas Traherne MA was an English poet, clergyman, theologian, and religious writer. Little information is known about his life. The intense, scholarly spirituality in his writings led to his being commemorated by the Anglican Church on 10 October.

The work for which he is best known today is the Centuries of Meditations, a collection of short paragraphs in which he reflects on Christian life and ministry, philosophy, happiness, desire and childhood. This was first published in 1908 after having been rediscovered in manuscript ten years earlier. His poetry likewise was first published in 1903 and 1910. His prose works include Roman Forgeries, Christian Ethics, and A Serious and Patheticall Contemplation of the Mercies of God.

Traherne's poetry is often associated with the metaphysical poets, even though his poetry was unknown for two centuries after his death. His manuscripts were kept among the private papers of the Skipps family of Ledbury, Herefordshire, until 1888. Then, in the winter of 1896–1897, two manuscript volumes containing his poems and meditations were discovered by chance for sale in a street bookstall.

Famous Quotes:

  • Your enjoyment of the world is never right, till every morning you awake in Heaven: see yourself in your Father's palace; and look upon the skies, the earth, and the air as celestial joys: having such a reverend esteem of all, as if you were among the angels.
  • Love is the true means by which the world is enjoyed: our love to others, and others love to us.
  • More company increases happiness, but does not lighten or diminish misery.
  • Had we not loved ourselves at all, we could never have been obliged to love anything. So that self-love is the basis of all love.
  • An empty book is like an infant's soul, in which anything may be written. It is capable of all things, but containeth nothing. I have a mind to fill this with profitable wonders.
  • You never know yourself till you know more than your body.
  • You never enjoy the world aright, till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars.
  • Happiness was not made to be boasted, but enjoyed. Therefore tho others count me miserable, I will not believe them if I know and feel myself to be happy; nor fear them.
  • A little grit in the eye destroyeth the sight of the very heavens, and a little malice or envy a world of joys. One wry principle in the mind is of infinite consequence.
  • To love one person with a private love is poor and miserable: to love all is glorious.


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Also known as
  • Траэрн, Томас
  • England
  • Brasenose College, Oxford
  • University of Oxford
Sep 27, 1674

on July 23, 2013