Discovering Traherne (3): On the Cross
Improperly excerpted, Traherne might appear to be a proto-romantic heretic, viewing the soul as naturally good and pure until corrupted by the world, and “saved” by recovery of the primeval innocent vision. (Of course one can be a romantic and a Christian, but not a Romantic, in the sense of holding as a philosophy the post-Enlightenment emotionalism and subjectivism of Shelley et.al.) The third Century contains passages which out-Wordsworth the man who gave us “splendor in the grass…glory in the flower”:
Certainly Adam in Paradice had not more sweet and Curious Apprehensions of the World, then I when I was a child. All appeared New, and Strange at the first, inexpressibly rare, and Delightfull, and Beautifull. I was a little Stranger which at my enterance into the World was Saluted and Surrounded with innumerable Joys. My Knowledg was Divine: I knew by Intuition those things which since my Apostacie, I Collected again, by the Highest Reason.
But Traherne’s mind is broad and orthodox enough to contain these views without losing sight of the Christian facts of life. Here is a selection from a lengthy rhapsody on the Cross from the first Century:
The Cross is the Abyss of Wonders, the Centre of Desires, the Schole of Virtues, the Hous of Wisdom, the Throne of Lov, the Theatre of Joys and the Place of Sorrows; It is the Root of Happiness, and the Gate of Heaven….
If Lov be the weight of the Soul, and its Object the Centre, All Eys and Hearts may convert and turn unto this Object: cleave unto this Centre, and by it enter into Rest….
That Cross is a Tree set on fire with invisible flame, that Illuminates all the World. The Flame is Lov….
Here you learn all Patience, Meekness, Self Denial, Courage, Prudence, Zeal, Lov, Charity, Contempt of the World, Joy, Penitence, Contrition, Modestie, Fidelity, Constancy Perseverance, Holiness, Contentation, and Thanksgiving. With whatsoever els is requisit for a Man, a Christian or a King….
But above all these our Saviors Cross is the Throne of Delights. That Centre of Eternity, That Tree of Life in the midst of the Paradice of GOD!….
There are we Entertained with the Wonder of all Ages. There we enter into the Heart of the Univers.
I bid you a good and holy Easter season.Pre-TypePad