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Centuries of Meditations


Publisher writes

For more than 200 years, Thomas Traherne's Centuries of Meditations was undiscovered and unpublished. The manuscript passed through many hands before finally being compiled into a book by bookseller and scholar BERTRAM DOBELL (1842-1914) in 1908. Centuries is a collection of poems written to express the rapture of life lived in accordance with God. Yet Dobell is careful to state that even though Traherne was a clergyman, there is plenty of beauty to be found in his poetry that does not require specific belief in Christianity or in God. Readers of many ages and persuasions will be touched by Traherne's passages on love and belonging.

Author Information

Thomas Traherne

English author THOMAS TRAHERNE (1636-1674) received a master's degree in arts and divinity from Brasenose College, Oxford. He worked as a parish priest in Credenhill and wrote a handful of books, including Christian Ethicks (1675) and Roman Forgeries (1673).

Judges' and contributors' comments

Malcolm Guite: It’s one of those books where … certain golden passages are anthologised and just in and of themselves exercise a huge influence. He touches experiences of transfiguration that people have but don’t talk about, and they read those oft-quoted passages and go, ‘Oh, it’s normal, that happened to you too’.

Denise Inge: Essential reading. This classic of spirituality from the 17th century discovered at the turn of the 20th inspired such writers as C.S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Sayers and Annie Dillard. Lewis called it ‘almost the most beautiful book written in the English language’.

Bill Countryman: Traherne’s work is profoundly important for the way in which he freed the gospel from the legalism that has dominated so much of western Christianity from antiquity onward. His vision of the joy of God’s love and our human response is very probably the best foundation we have for a Christianity that can speak to the souls of present-day people.

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