In Salem Dwelt A Glorious King
Poem by Thomas Traherne
In Salem dwelt a glorious King,
Raised from a shepherd's lowly state;
That did His praises like an angel sing
Who did the World create.
By many great and bloody wars
He was advanced unto Thrones
But more delighted in the stars
Than in the splendour of his precious stones;
Nor gold nor silver did his eye regard
The Works of God were his sublime reward,
A warlike champion he had been,
And many feats of chivalry
Had done: in kingly courts his eye had seen
A vast variety
Of earthly joys: Yet he despis'd
Those fading honours, and false pleasures
Which are by mortals so much prized;
And placed his happiness in other treasures
No state of life which in this world we find
Could yield contentment to his greater mind.
His fingers touched his trembling lyre,
And every quavering string did yield
A sound that filled all the Jewish quire,
And echoed in the field.
No pleasure was so great to him
As in a silent night to see
The moon and stars: A cherubim
Above them, even here, he seem'd to be:
Enflam'd with Love it was his great desire,
To sing, contemplate, ponder, and admire.
He was a prophet, and foresaw
Things extant in the world to come:
He was a judge, and ruled by a law
That than the honeycomb
Was sweeter far: he was a sage,
And all his people could advise;
An oracle, whose every page
Contained in verse the greatest mysteries;
But most he then enjoyed himself when he
Did as a poet praise the Deity.
A shepherd, soldier, and divine,
A judge, a courtier, and a king,
Priest, angel, prophet, oracle, did shine
At once when he did sing.
Philosopher and poet too
Did in his melody appear;
All these in him did please the view
Of those that did his heavenly music hear
And every drop that from his flowing quill
Came down, did all the world with nectar fill
He had a deep and perfect sense
Of all the glories and the pleasures
That in God's works are hid: the excellence
Of such transcendent treasures
Made him on earth an heavenly king,
And filled his solitudes with joy ;
He never did more sweetly sing
Than when alone, though that doth mirth destroy:*
Sense did his soul with heavenly life inspire,
And made him seem in God's celestial quire.
Rich, sacred, deep and precious things
Did here on earth the man surround:
With all the Glory of the King of Kings
He was most strangely crowned.
His clear soul and open sight
Among the Sons of God did see
Things filling Angels with delight:
His ear did hear their heavenly melody,
And when he was alone he all became
That Bliss implied, or did increase his fame.
All arts he then did exercise;
And as his God he did adore
By secret ravishments above the skies
He carried was before
He died. His soul did see and feel
What others know not; and became,
While he before his God did kneel,
A constant, heavenly, pure, seraphic flame.
Oh that I might unto his throne aspire,
And all his joys above the stars admire!
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