Professor Louis Martz is a treasure who, not unlike Traherne, has been overlooked by the publishing world. In other words, such works of his as The Poetry of Meditation and The Paradise Within have been out of print for some time. But these two books are invaluable companions to reading Traherne’s Centuries. The Poetry of Meditation is an unequalled introduction to the kind of meditative poetry that resulted from hundreds of years of meditative practices in Europe. Traherne is a shining example of that kind of meditative, poetic writing. The Paradise Within provides one of the best structural studies of Traherne’s Centuries. Martz argues convincingly of Traherne’s indebtedness to the Augustinian quest as best articulated in Bonaventure’s study in The Mind’s Road to God.
So, some more details about Louis Martz. . . . He was a much beloved professor at Yale University for four decades, from the 1950’s through the 1980’s. His friend and colleague Dwight Culler noted that, “As a scholar, his greatest impact was on the study of 17th-century metaphysical poetry through his book ‘The Poetry of Meditation’ (1954), which proved that the structure of these poems was deeply influenced by popular handbooks of religious devotion.” (Yale Bulletin & Calendar, January 18, 2002, Volume 30, Number 15). While he mentions Traherne several times in The Poetry of Meditation, Martz devotes 68 pages to Traherne’s Centuries in The Paradise Within: Studies in Vaughan, Traherne, and Milton.
Professor Martz can help us meditate our way through Traherne’s Centuries, from cover to cover. As well as anyone, he gives us the context for Traherne’s powerful, joyful method of meditation.