Moving Jewels



For about a century and half before Wordsworth Thomas Traherne had a tremendous passage he said, wrongly, that I would remember, from “The Corn was Orient and Immortal Wheat”:


 “The corn was orient

And the mortal wheat which never should be reaped

nor was ever sown.

I thought it had stood from everlasting to everlasting.

The dust and stones from the street was as precious as gold.

The gates were at firs the end of the world

The green trees when I first saw them first through one of the gates

Transported and ravished me.

Their sweetness and unusual beauty made my breast leap

And almost mad with ecstasy they were such strange and wonderful things.

Oh he men such strange and venerable creatures to the aged had seen

Immortal cherubins and young men and glittering and sparling angels

And made strange and cervavic pieces of life and beauty.

Boys and girls tumbling in the streets and playing

and were moving jewels and knew not that they were born or should ever die

but all things abided eternally as they were in their proper places

eternity was manifest in the light of day

and something infinite behind everything appeared

which talked with my expectation and moved my desire.

The city seemed to stand in Eden or to be built in heaven

But the streets were mine, the temple was mine, the people were mine.

Their clothes of gold and silver were mine

As much as their sparkling eyes, their skins and ruddy faces.

The skies were mine over the sun and moon and stars

And all the world was mine

And I the only spectator and enjoyer of it.

I knew not churlish proprieties

Not bounds not divisions

But all proprieties and divisions were mine

All treasures and possessions of them.

So that without much ado I was corrupted

 and made to learn the dirty devices of the world

which I now unlearn and become again

 as it were a little child again

 that I may enter into the kingdom of God.”


This story is of course not unlike the Ojibwa story of the origin of agriculture. What we all must do is unlearn what we have learned from corrupt or dirty devices and become once more the child who can enter the kingdom of God. It is also not unlike the Wordsworth poem Intimations of mortality or even the Navajo cradle song.  All of these  teach us, according to Moriarty, how to walk beautifully upon the earth.

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