Poetry, VOLUME 4

Poem: “On Leaping Over the Moon” Thomas Traherne [Vol. 4, #17]

“On Leaping Over the Moon”
Thomas Traherne

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.


C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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