Eden, Wonder, Innocence




oA learned and a happy ignorance

          Divided me

      From all the vanity,

From all the sloth, care, pain, and sorrow that advance

      The madness and the misery

Of men. No error, no distraction I

Saw soil the earth, or overcloud the sky.


   I knew not that there was a serpent’s sting,

          Whose poison shed

      On men, did overspread

The world; nor did I dream of such a thing

      As sin, in which mankind lay dead.

They all were brisk and living wights to me,

Yea, pure and full of immortality.


   Joy, pleasure, beauty, kindness, glory, love,

          Sleep, day, life, light,

      Peace, melody, my sight,

My ears and heart did fill and freely move.

      All that I saw did me delight.

The Universe was then a world of treasure,

To me an universal world of pleasure.


   Unwelcome penitence was then unknown,

          Vain costly toys,

      Swearing and roaring boys,

Shops, markets, taverns, coaches, were unshown;

      So all things were that drown’d my joys:

No thorns chok’d up my path, nor hid the face

Of bliss and beauty, nor eclips’d the place.


   Only what Adam in his first estate,

          Did I behold;

      Hard silver and dry gold

As yet lay under ground; my blessed fate

      Was more acquainted with the old

And innocent delights which he did see

In his original simplicity.


   Those things which first his Eden did adorn,

          My infancy

      Did crown. Simplicity

Was my protection when I first was born.

      Mine eyes those treasures first did see

Which God first made. The first effects of love

My first enjoyments upon earth did prove;


   And were so great, and so divine, so pure;o

          So fair and sweet,

      So true; when I did meet

Them here at first, they did my soul allure,

      And drew away my infant feet

Quite from the works of men; that I might see

The glorious wonders of the Deity.




How like an angel came I down!

How bright are all things here!

When first among his works I did appear

O how their glory me did crown!

The world resembled his eternity,

In which my soul did walk;

And ev’ry thing that I did see

Did with me talk.


The skies in their magnificence,

The lively, lovely air;

Oh how divine, how soft, how sweet, how fair!

The stars did entertain my sense,

And all the works of God, so bright and pure,

So rich and great did seem,

As if they ever must endure

In my esteem.


A native health and innocence

Within my bones did grow,

And while my God did all his glories show,

I felt a vigour in my sense

That was all spirit. I within did flow

With seas of life, like wine;

I nothing in the world did know

But ’twas divine.


Harsh ragged objects were conceal’d,

Oppressions tears and cries,

Sins, griefs, complaints, dissensions, weeping eyes

Were hid, and only things reveal’d

Which heav’nly spirits, and the angels prize.

The state of innocence

And bliss, not trades and poverties,

Did fill my sense.


The streets were pav’d with golden stones,

The boys and girls were mine,

Oh how did all their lovely faces shine!

The sons of men were holy ones,

In joy and beauty they appear’d to me,

And every thing which here I found,

While like an angel I did see,

Adorn’d the ground.


Rich diamond and pearl and gold

In ev’ry place was seen;

Rare splendours, yellow, blue, red, white and green,

Mine eyes did everywhere behold.

Great wonders cloth’d with glory did appear,

Amazement was my bliss,

That and my wealth was ev’ry where:

No joy to this!


Curs’d and devis’d proprieties,

With envy, avarice

And fraud, those fiends that spoil even Paradise,

Flew from the splendour of mine eyes,

And so did hedges, ditches, limits, bounds,

I dream’d not aught of those,

But wander’d over all men’s grounds,

And found repose.


Proprieties themselves were mine,

And hedges ornaments;

Walls, boxes, coffers, and their rich contents

Did not divide my joys, but all combine.

Clothes, ribbons, jewels, laces, I esteem’d

My joys by others worn:

For me they all to wear them seem’d

When I was born.




But that which most I wonder at, which most

I did esteem my bliss, which most I boast,

And ever shall enjoy, is that within

I felt no stain, nor spot of sin.


No darkness then did overshade,

      But all within was pure and bright,

No guilt did crush, nor fear invade

      But all my soul was full of light.


A joyful sense and purity

      Is all I can remember;

   The very night to me was bright,

      ’Twas summer in December.


A serious meditation did employ

My soul within, which taken up with joy

Did seem no outward thing to note, but fly

All objects that do feed the eye.


While it those very objects did

      Admire, and prize, and praise, and love,

Which in their glory most are hid,

      Which presence only doth remove.


      Their constant daily presence I

Rejoicing at, did see;

      And that which takes them from the eye

Of others, offer’d them to me.


No inward inclination did I feel

To avarice or pride: my soul did kneel

In admiration all the day. No lust, nor strife,

Polluted then my infant life.


No fraud nor anger in me mov’d,

      No malice, jealousy, or spite;

All that I saw I truly lov’d.

      Contentment only and delight


      Were in my soul. O Heav’n! what bliss

Did I enjoy and feel!

      What powerful delight did this

Inspire! for this I daily kneel.


Whether it be that nature is so pure,

And custom only vicious; or that sure

God did by miracle the guilt remove,

And make my soul to feel his love


So early: or that ’twas one day,

      Wherein this happiness I found;

Whose strength and brightness so do ray,

      That still it seems me to surround;


What ere it is, it is a light

      So endless unto me

That I a world of true delight

      Did then and to this day do see.


That prospect was the gate of Heav’n, that day

The ancient light of Eden did convey

Into my soul: I was an Adam there

A little Adam in a sphere


Of joys! O there my ravish’d sense

      Was entertain’d in Paradise,

And had a sight of innocence

      Which was beyond all bound and price.


An antepast of Heaven sure!

      I on the earth did reign;

Within, without me, all was pure;

      I must become a child again.


Thomas Traherne