Chapter

Thomas Traherne: Sensuous Idealism

Robert Ellrodt

in Seven Metaphysical Poets

Published in print May 2000 | ISBN: 9780198117384
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670923 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198117384.003.0016
Thomas Traherne: Sensuous Idealism

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Just as his reflexive awareness of the natural phenomenon of perception turns into a rapturous delight at the possibility of a spiritual possession of the world, ecstasies of divine love at once irradiate and mask the true nature of Thomas Traherne's Christianity. Traherne duly acknowledges the pre-eminence of spiritual qualities and pleasures, but what is characteristic is the way in which sensible enjoyment tends to become self-sufficient either in the exercise of a faculty or by being pervaded with a diffuse spirituality. Traherne's spiritual enjoyment of his senses creates a ‘unified sensibility’ when he celebrates the fusion of soul and sense in the glorified body. Traherne identifies the soul with consciousness. Since his consciousness takes in the world and his sensations are felt as present within the soul, there is for him, in fact, no difference between soul and sense in a self-reflexive apprehension. Traherne's mode of apprehension of his own thoughts and sensations does not invite the interpenetration of the concrete and the abstract observed in the poetry of John Donne and George Herbert.

Keywords: Thomas Traherne; Christianity; body; soul; spirituality; consciousness; concrete; abstract; apprehension; divine love

Chapter.  6832 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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