Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Walking - Thomas Traherne

To walk abroad is, not with eyes,
But thoughts, the fields to see and prize;
          Else may the silent feet,
               Like logs of wood,
Move up and down, and see no good
          Nor joy nor glory meet.

Ev'n carts and wheels their place do change,
But cannot see, though very strange
          The glory that is by;
               Dead puppets may
Move in the bright and glorious day,
          Yet not behold the sky.

And are not men than they more blind,
Who having eyes yet never find
          The bliss in which they move;
                Like statues dead
They up and down are carried
          Yet never see nor love.

To walk is by a thought to go;
To move in spirit to and fro;
          To mind the good we see;
                To taste the sweet;
Observing all the things we meet
           How choice and rich they be.

To note the beauty of the day,
And golden fields of corn survey;
          Admire each pretty flow'r
               With its sweet smell;
To praise their Maker, and to tell
          The marks of his great pow'r.

To fly abroad like active bees,
Among the hedges and the trees,
          To cull the dew that lies
               On ev'ry blade,
From ev'ry blossom; till we lade
          Our minds, as they their thighs.

Observe those rich and glorious things.
The rivers, meadows, woods, and springs,
           The fructifying sun;
                 To note from far
The rising of each twinkling star
          For us his race to run.

A little child these well perceives,
Who, tumbling in green grass and leaves,
           May rich as kings be thought,
               But there's a sight
Which perfect manhood may delight,
          To which we shall be brought.

While in those pleasant paths we talk,
'Tis that tow'rds which at last we walk;
          For we may by degrees
                Wisely proceed
Pleasures of love and praise to heed,
          From viewing herbs and trees.

Take a walk, reader.  Don't merely move yourself about through nature, but as Thomas Traherne instructs us, walk with your full mindfulness on just how amazing and full of beauty the world around you is.  For Traherne, a priest, it was all a sign of God's glory.  It doesn't have to be so for you, but I think you'd be as blind as the cart and dead puppets Traherne mentions to not see some sort of beauty when you really look about you.

Two lines in this poem in particular stand out to me as especially noteworthy.  First, "To walk is by a thought to go."  It couldn't be truer.  Walking, and indeed, all movement, is the manifestation of thought into action in the world.  We think and so we go.  Second is the short phrase, "the fructifying sun."  To fructify is to make something productive, or fruitful.  The sun does this for the whole world, and it just stuck out to me as such a nice phrase.

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