Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
The Person
By Thomas Traherne (1637?–1674)
 
YE 1 Sacred limbs,
    A richer blazon I will lay
  On you than first I found:
  That like celestial kings,
Ye might with ornaments of joy        5
    Be always crown’d.
A deep vermilion on a red,
On that a scarlet I will lay,
  With gold I’ll crown your head,
  Which like the Sun shall ray.        10
  With robes of glory and delight
      I’ll make you bright.
Mistake me not, I do not mean to bring
  New robes, but to display the thing:
Nor paint, nor clothe, nor crown, nor add a ray,        15
But glorify by taking all away.
 
      The naked things
  Are most sublime, and brightest show,
    When they alone are seen:
    Men’s hands than Angels’ wings        20
  Are truer wealth even here below:
    For those but seem.
  Their worth they then do best reveal,
  When we all metaphors remove,
    For metaphors conceal,        25
    And only vapours prove.
  They best are blazon’d when we see
      The anatomy,
  Survey the skin, cut up the flesh, the veins
    Unfold: the glory there remains:        30
The muscles, fibres, arteries, and bones
Are better far than crowns and precious stones.
 
      Shall I not then
  Delight in those most sacred treasures
      Which my great Father gave,        35
      Far more than other men
  Delight in gold? Since these are pleasures
      That make us brave!
  Far braver than the pearl and gold
  That glitter on a lady’s neck!        40
    The rubies we behold,
    The diamonds that deck
The hands of queens, compared unto
    The hands we view;
The softer lilies and the roses are        45
  Less ornaments to those that wear
The same, than the hands, and lips and eyes
Of those who those false ornaments so prize.
 
      Let verity
  Be thy delight; let me esteem        50
    True wealth far more than toys:
    Let sacred riches be,
  While falser treasures only seem,
      My real joys.
  For golden chains and bracelets are        55
  But gilded manacles, whereby
    Old Satan doth ensnare,
    Allure, bewitch the eye.
  Thy gifts, O God, alone I’ll prize,
      My tongue, my eyes,        60
My cheeks, my lips, my ears, my hands, my feet;
  Their harmony is far more sweet;
Their beauty true. And these in all my ways
Shall themes become and organs of Thy praise.
 
Note 1. From the Poetical Works of Thomas Traherne, ed. by Bertram Dobell, London, 1903. [back]
 
 
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