"Select Meditations" is among the earliest works of the poet and mystic Thomas Traherne (1637-74). Written shortly after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, the manuscript was not discovered until 1964 and first published by Carcanet in 1997. Traherne, a young clergyman in a country parish at the time, explores his relationship with God and his vocation to 'teach Immortal Souls the way to Heaven'. It is a spiritual journey that involves examination of his doubts and failings (he confesses to 'too much proneness to Speak'), of the political issues that shaped his times, and of the realities of ministering to his congregation. Above all, though, Traherne's meditations celebrate the beauty of the world and the human community transfigured by the love of God, in terms that speak across time. 'Remember', he writes, 'that the world is the beginning of Gifts.' Julia J. Smith's landmark edition, preserving the original spelling, provides a detailed introduction and notes on the text.
Thomas Traherne was born in about 1637, in the city of Hereford. He entered Brasenose College, Oxford in 1653. After the Restoration he received Episcopal ordination in 1660. He held the living of Credenhill in Herefordshire until his death in 1674, and was buried in Teddington under the reading-desk in the church. Traherne published Roman Forgeries (1673) and Christian Ethicks (1675) during his lifetime but became better known during the twentieth century following a series of remarkable discoveries, including Select Meditation in 1964 and Commentaries of Heaven in 1982. Julia J. Smith read English at Somerville College, Oxford and is an independent scholar with a particular interest in the seventeenth century. She has published extensively on Traherne, his manuscripts and his biography.