Guest poem sent in by K J Lee
(Poem #1390) The Salutation
These little Limbs, These Eys and Hands which here I find, This panting Heart wherwith my Life begins; Where have ye been? Behind What Curtain were ye from me hid so long! Where was, in what Abyss, my new-made Tongue? When silent I So many thousand thousand Years Beneath the Dust did in a Chaos ly, How could I Smiles, or Tears, Or Lips, or Hands, or Eys, or Ears perceiv? Welcom ye Treasures which I now receiv. I that so long Was Nothing from Eternity, Did little think such Joys as Ear and Tongue To celebrat or see: Such Sounds to hear, such Hands to feel, such Feet, Beneath the Skies, on such a Ground to meet. New burnisht Joys! Which finest Gold and Pearl excell! Such sacred Treasures are the Limbs of Boys In which a Soul doth dwell: Their organized Joints and azure Veins More Wealth include than all the World contains. From Dust I rise And out of Nothing now awake; These brighter Regions which salute mine Eys A Gift from God I take: The Earth, the Seas, the Light, the lofty Skies, The Sun and Stars are mine; if these I prize. A Stranger here, Strange things doth meet, strange Glory see, Strange Treasures lodg'd in this fair World appear, Strange all and New to me: But that they mine should be who Nothing was, That Strangest is of all; yet brought to pass.
Nobody does the joy of being more than Traherne. Almost all his poems are to do with the miracle of existence, the wonder of our universe, and the sheer extraordinariness of ordinary things. This particular poem never fails to make me grateful to be alive, not just for all the things Traherne mentions, but also the near perfection of this poem, with its changing rhythms which delay then resolve the rhymes. At the risk of being over-analytical with such a passionate piece of verse, I particularly like the second stanza: ears alliterates with eyes and rhymes with tears, and many a lesser poet would have left it there to end the line, but Traherne makes the 4th line a pentameter - perceive! which then chimes nicely with the last line, also a pentameter with the same rhyme. This is wisdom and flawless poetry - Traherne is saying that the world we live in is not a trifle, but a subject for solemn amazement, and deserves nothing less. With regard to Traherne's poetry, we are doubly-blessed, because this and other beautiful poems by him have been set to music in another great work, the "Dies Natalis" by Gerald Finzi (1901-1956). Finzi is little-known outside the United Kingdom, but his settings of English verse, particularly Shakespeare and Hardy, are glorious and well-loved. Regards Kuan [Biography] Thomas Traherne, was born in Hereford, near the Welsh border, in 1637, and died in 1674. A biography can be found at http://www.bartleby.com/65/tr/Traherne.html