Friday, February 08, 2008

On Leaping Over the Moon

Did anyone else see the moon this evening? I could scarcely take my eyes off it on my journey home: the most slender sickle of shimmering light, but with the full disc faintly visible behind it. Technically, this is a waxing crescent (4% of full) but I'd say that it is magic! And it reminded me of one of my favourite poems: "On Leaping over the Moon", by Thomas Traherne (1637-1674)

I saw new Worlds beneath the Water lie,
New People; yea, another Sky
And sun, which seen by Day
Might things more clear display.
Just such another
Of late my Brother
Did in his Travel see, and saw by Night,
A much more strange and wondrous Sight:
Nor could the World exhibit such another,
So great a Sight, but in a Brother.

Adventure strange! No such in Story we,
New or old, true or feigned, see.
On Earth he seem’d to move
Yet Heaven went above;
Up in the Skies
His body flies
In open, visible, yet Magic, sort:
As he along the Way did sport,
Over the Flood he takes his nimble Course
Without the help of feigned Horse.

As he went tripping o’er the King’s high-way,
A little pearly river lay
O’er which, without a wing
Or Oar, he dar’d to swim,
Swim through the air
On body fair;
He would not use or trust Icarian wings
Lest they should prove deceitful things;
For had he fall’n, it had been wondrous high,
Not from, but from above, the sky:

He might have dropt through that thin element
Into a fathomless descent;
Unto the nether sky
That did beneath him lie,
And there might tell
What wonders dwell
On eath above. Yet doth he briskly run,
And bold the danger overcome;
Who, as he leapt, with joy related soon
How happy he o’er-leapt the Moon.

What wondrous things upon the Earth are done
Beneath, and yet above the sun?
Deeds all appear again
In higher spheres; remain
In clouds as yet:
But there they get
Another light, and in another way
Themselves to us above display.
The skies themselves this earthly globe surround;
W’are even here within them found.

On heav’nly ground within the skies we walk,
And in this middle centre talk:
Did we but wisely move,
On earth in heav’n above,
Then soon should we
Exalted be
Above the sky: from whence whoever falls,
Through the long dismal precipice,
Sinks to the deep abyss where Satan crawls
Where horrid Death and Despair lies.

As much as others thought themselves to lie
Beneath the moon, so much more high
Himself and thought to fly
Above the skarry sky,
As that he spied
Below the tide.
Thus did he yield me in the shady night
A wonsdrous and instructive light,
Which taught me that under our feet there is
As o’er our heads, a place of bliss.

To the same purpose; he, not long before
Brought home from nurse, going to the door
To do some little thing
He must not do within,
With wonder cries,
As in the skies
He saw the moon, "O yonder is the moon
Newly come after me to town,
That shin’d at Lugwardin but yesternight,
Where I enjoy’d the self-same light."

As if it had ev’n twenty thousand faces,
It shined at once in many places;
To all the earth so wide
God doth the stars divide
With so much art
The moon impart,
They serve us all; serve wholly ev’ry one
As if they served him alone.
While every single person hath such store,
’Tis want of sense that makes us poor.


picperfic said...

I made Barry look at the pretty moon this evening. We were just about home from a wonderful but busy week in Devon.

Monica said...

My BF pointed it out as we were driving back from the movies. It was 'like a smile' one of our friends commented. I wish that the Eclipse on the 21st wasn't at 3:00am!!

Viknits said...

Yeah it was fantastic! Love the poem :D

Scarlet said...

I was looking at the moon alot this weekend, it was so captivatingly beautiful. For me there is something so magical and humbling about looking up at the stars and moon at night and just clearing your mind or all thoughts.

jayne said...

Yes, wasn't it amazing?! I spotted it whilst waiting for our flight to Belfast to visit our eldest daughter. It was a beautiful clear evening and I don't think I've ever seen such a thin sliver of moon.

vintage twist said...

Is this the same Traherne who is mentioned in the Merrily Watkins mysteries written by Phil Rickman?