Thomas Traherne

1637–1674

Little is known about British clergyman Thomas Traherne’s life. He may have grown up near the border of Wales. He studied at Oxford University and published one book, however, much of his poetry was never printed during his lifetime. More than 200 years after his death, some of his manuscripts were discovered in a bookseller’s stall and published in 1903 as Poetical Works. Another manuscript was discovered in the British Museum and published in 1910. In 1967, more poems were found, this time in a dump by a man looking for used auto parts, and published as Commentaries of Heaven: The Poems (1989). Considered a metaphysical poet in the tradition of John Donne and George Herbert, Traherne often addressed faith, divinity, and the innocence of childhood, using peculiar syntax and repetition to achieve incantatory effects.

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