Thomas Traherne

(1636 or 1637 – ca. 27 September 1674 / England)

In Making Bodies Love Could Not Express

Poem by Thomas Traherne

In making bodies Love could not express
Itself, or art, unless it made them less.
O what a monster had in man been seen,
Had every thumb or toe a mountain been!
What worlds must he devour when he did eat?
What oceans drink! yet could not all his meat,
Or stature, make him like an angel shine ;
Or make his Soul in Glory more Divine.
A Soul it is that makes us truly great,
Whose little bodies make us more complete.
An understanding that is infinite,
An endless, wide, and everlasting sight,
That can enjoy all things and nought exclude,
Is the most sacred greatness may be viewed.
'Twas inconvenient that his bulk should be
An endless hill ; he nothing then could see:
No figure have, no motion, beauty, place,
No colour, feature, member, light, or grace.
A body like a mountain is but cumber.
An endless body is but idle lumber:
It spoils converse, and time itself devours,
While meat in vain, in feeding idle powers;
Excessive bulk being most injurious found,
To those conveniences which men have crowned:
His wisdom did His power here repress,
God made man greater while He made him less.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003