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A Poet Comes Home: Thomas Traherne,
Theologian in a New Century

Denise Inge

Thomas Traherne, the seventeenth-century Anglican priest and poet best known for his writings on early childhood innocence and the glory of creation, was a nature-loving mystic and an inveterate optimist. Often discussed as a metaphysical poet, a mystic, even as a heretic, he has rarely been taken seriously as a theologian. But important manuscript discoveries made in 1997 have sparked a new interest in Traherne, and the received understanding of his work is rapidly changing. A historic voice with a contemporary message, Traherne speaks directly to the spiritual needs of our day. This article gives an overview of previous literary and theological studies, surveys recent work in the field, and presents a new reading of Traherne. It is a comprehensive introduction to an Anglican divine who inspired such spiritual "greats" as C. S. Lewis and Thomas Merton, and is poised to have a significant influence on Christian thinking in this new century.

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