‘The Tongue of all the World’: Traherne in Hebrew

Thomas Traherne, Hebrew characters

Dr Julia Smith, general editor of the Oxford Traherne, was recently interviewed by Yehuda Vizan, Hebrew poet and translator, for the major Hebrew literary magazine Dehak. Dehak devotes an entire section of its 2019 issue to discussing and translating some of Traherne’s work.


In addition to the interview, to which the Traherne scholar Elizabeth Dodd also contributes, the issue includes translations, by a number of well-known Israeli poets and translators, of ‘Innocence’, ‘Shadows in the Water’, and passages from the Thanksgivings, Centuries, and Commentaries of Heaven. Vizan comments that although translating Traherne into Hebrew is not easy, it also seems ‘so natural’: Traherne, who believed that Hebrew was the language spoken by Adam and Eve in Eden, and that originally ‘Hebrew had been the Tongue / Of all the World’, would surely have thought this appropriate.


 The full English version of Julia Smith’s interview can be read here, and the published interview (translated into Hebrew) can be read in the 2019 issue of Dehak (pp. 154–61).