BY THOMAS TRAHERNE (1636-1674)
To walk abroad is, not with eyes,
But thoughts, the fields to see and prize;
Else may the silent feet,
Like logs of wood,
Move up and down, and see no good
Nor joy nor glory meet.
I woke up yesterday and felt the need for a poem—a poem to accompany me on a hike in the hills of Oaxaca, Mexico. There is a poem for every occasion, mood or opportunity. It’s true. If you seek it, you will find it as I did with Traherne’s “Walking,” with its opening line of “To walk abroad is, not with eyes, But thoughts…”
Little is known of Thomas Traherne, an English poet, clergyman and theologian. Not a well-established poet of his time, he is almost “wholly a discovery of twentieth century scholarship” after one of his manuscripts was accidentally found in a London bookstall in the late 19th century.
Although I am not a big fan of metaphysical poetics, “Walking” was the perfect text to contemplate on the trails of Santo Domingo Tamoltepec.
While in those pleasant paths we talk,
’Tis that tow’rds which at last we walk;
For we may by degrees
Pleasures of love and praise to heed,
From viewing herbs and trees.