'High Delights that Satisfy all Appetites': Thomas Traherne and Gender

Jean E Graham


The poetry of Thomas Traherne has often seemed purely and innocently devotional in comparison with that of George Herbert, John Donne, or Richard Crashaw, poets whose religious work, at least occasionally, is sexually explicit.  Ths poem ‘Love’ is a notable exception, expressing erotic pleasure in a relationship between a human speaker who is figured both as a ‘boy’ and as a ‘bride’ and a masculine deity who possesses that speaker’s womb and brings forth fruit from it.  Although a few scholars provide brief commentary on ‘Love’, none extends the analysis to include other lyric poems by Traherne.  Thus, the implications of ‘Love’ for the body of Traherne’s sacred poetry have not been developed to date. This essay’s argument is two-fold: to provide a more in-depth evaluation of ‘Love’, and to demonstrate that the poem’s sexually transgressive implications are reflected throughout Traherne’s Dobell and Burney poems.


Traherne, gender theory

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