Lonsdale, Roger, ed. Eighteenth-Century Women Poets. New

York: oxford University Press, 1990. McKim, A. Elizabeth. "The Headache Poems of Jane Cave Winscom." Literature and Medicine 24, no. 1 (2005): 93-108.

"WONDER" Thomas Traherne (ca. 1660) Many poems by the 17th-century religious poet Thomas Traherne were not published until long after his death.


One example is the poem "Wonder," published in 1903 in a collection known as the Dobell sequence, named for its publisher, Bertram Dobell. The poems had remained undiscovered until 1895, when W. T. Brooke found them in a bookstall in London. Influences on Traherne's work included John Donne, John Denham, Edmund Waller, and George Herbert. As the poetry of Herbert, "Wonder" does not rely on simple form, as Traherne varies his stanza patterns in the eight eight-line verses. He uses the poem to praise nature and its relationship with God, noting that everything from "The skies in their magnificence" and "The lively, lovely air" to "The stars" helped his spirit feel at home on earth, when he descended "like an angel" to discover "How bright are all things here!"

Because the speaker describes all things as "bright," he must include many examples in addition to those from nature. Thus, "The streets were paved with golden stones, / The boys and girls were mine." All people seemed to shine, as the speaker sees the world as if he had the eyes of an angel. He describes all of the rich gems he encounters, including "diamond and pearl and gold," having admitted earlier in the fourth stanza that "Harsh ragged objects were concealed." Also hidden from his sight were "Sins, griefs, complaints, dissensions, weeping eyes," as God revealed only things "Which heavenly spirits and the angels prize," and "The state of innocence" informed all of his senses. He enters that state after a rebirth, prompted by his acceptance of God's grace.

Traherne returns in stanza 7 to the negative conditions that prevent human happiness and often blind men to the positive aspects of their world. Reproduction of the complete stanza aids in the understanding of critical reaction to the poem:

Cursed and devised proprieties, With envy, avarice,

And fraud, those fiends that spoil even paradise,

Fled from the splendor of mine eyes.

And so did hedges, ditches, limits, bounds:

I dreamed not aught of those,

But wandered over all men's grounds,

And found repose. (49-56)

Critics have noted the forced characteristic of the poem's rhyme and meter in order to accommodate the repetition Traherne incorporates in imitation of biblical poetry. His biographer Malcolm Day writes that Tra-herne's thought or idea drives the poem's construction, noting, "The choice of phrase and word arises primarily out of the force of the idea as it is felt," rather than from any rhetorical convention. In order to capture a feeling of spontaneity, Traherne depends on a "loose relationship" between the rhythm and sound patterns that he incorporates. Day sees this as a positive characteristic. Because Traherne feels little pressure to conform to traditional requirements, his lines project a "supple" quality, enhanced through the simple tools of repetition, including alliteration, assonance, and beat. He did not use figurative language (figure of SPEECH) as often as others of his era, perhaps because metaphor suggests the necessity to use an indirect reference.

In this poem of meditation Traherne's message is that man must simply find his place in the universe, which will lead to a direct relationship with God. Biblical allusions prove a stronger tool than figures of speech. Even his cataloging suggests no hierarchy; all is one in God.

Walking Meditation

Walking Meditation

Finally, The Ultimate Guide To Walking Meditation. Have You Ever Wonder Why You’re Unhappy Most Of The Time? Do You Want To Transform All Your Unhappiness To Absolute Happiness Instantly? Yes! Today You Can Achieve Greater Happiness Through Walking Meditation.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment