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A Study of Traherne's Metaphysical Poetry

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  • Essay length: 2632 words
  • Submitted: 19/06/2006
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A Study of Traherne's Metaphysical Poetry

It is more than mere coincidence that the two poets who have produced the greatest visions of Paradise in the history of English literature both composed their works in the same twenty-five year period. The first - John Milton, needs very little introduction, while the second is the lesser known seventeenth century religious poet Thomas Traherne. Traherne's poetry, only uncovered at the end of the nineteenth century, has been quickly disregarded by many critics who consider Traherne an unrefined blend of Herbert and Vaughan. This hasty dismissal of Thomas Traherne as a poet in his own right seems a little unfair. Rather than judging Traherne's poetry by the preconceived standards we use to judge the likes of Herbert and Vaughan, his poetry should be analysed independently.

Graham Parry, writing in his book, Seventeenth Century Poetry, states that Traherne's works record `the essentials of a life of praise and delight within a recovered Eden'1 This underlying theme of Paradise was one that was to dominate the mid-seventeenth century. It is not chance that Traherne and Milton emerged from the same period. Amidst the fervent atmosphere of the English Civil War there was

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