"The world's fair beauty set my soul on fire."
In this first study of the full range of Traherne's poetry Richard Willmott explains his 'metaphysical' poetry to all who are attracted by the beauty of his language, but puzzled by his meaning. He offers guidance both for the student of English, uncertain about Traherne's theological ideas, and the student of theology, put off by seventeenth-century poetic conventions and diction. Using a wealth of quotation, he examines Traherne's verse alongside that of a variety of his contemporaries, including Andrew Marvell, Lucy Hutchinson, Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor.
Central to Traherne's poetry and generous theology is his delight in the capacity of his soul to approach God through an appreciation of His infinite creation. This soul is 'voluble', not only because it can express its thoughts with fluency, but also because it can enfold within itself the infinity of God's creation, taking in everything that it perceives, considering the latest scientific speculations about the atom and astronomy, but also looking clear-sightedly at Restoration society's materialism and - in one startlingly savage satire - the corruption of the royal court.