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Classic Poetry Series
Edward Taylor- poems -
Publication Date: 2012
Publisher:Poemhunter.com - The World's Poetry Archive
Edward Taylor(1642 - 29 June 1729) Edward Taylor was born in Leicestershire, England in 1642. He originally workedas a school teacher, but later left England for the United States. He studieddivinity at Harvard and then became a minister in Massachusetts. Early Life The son of a non-Conformist yeoman farmer, Taylor was born in 1642 atSketchley, Leicestershire, England. Following restoration of the monarchy and theAct of Uniformity under Charles II, which cost Taylor his teaching position, heemigrated in 1668 to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in America. Early Days in America He chronicled his Atlantic crossing and early years in America (from April 26,1668, to July 5, 1671) in his now-published Diary. He was admitted to HarvardCollege as a second year student soon after arriving in America and upongraduation in 1671 became pastor and physician at Westfield, on the remotewestern frontier of Massachusetts, where he remained until his death. Poetry Taylor, a New England Puritan, worked as a minister for sixty years. During thattime wrote a great deal of poetry and has become known as one of the bestwriters of the Puritan times. His poetry has a pious quality and emphasis is givento self examination, particularly in an individual's relations to God. His workswere not published until 1939 - over two years after his death. One collectionwas edited by Donald E. Stanford who commented: "Taylor seems to have been endowed with most of those qualities usuallyconnoted by the word puritan. He was learned, grave, severe, stubborn, andstiff-necked. He was very, very pious. But his piety was sincere. It was fed by along continuous spiritual experience arising, so he felt, from a mysticalcommunion with Christ. The reality and depth of this experience is amplywitnessed by his poetry." A custom of Taylor's was to write a poem (or 'Meditation') before each Lord'sSupper. Important themes in his work included: his adoption of the Biblical Davidas his model for the poet; the concept of poetry as an act/offering of ritualpraise; distinctions between the godly and ungodly; God's power as Creator; and
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God's voice as that which speaks truly and which man's voice merely an echo atbest. Taylor's poems, in leather bindings of his own manufacture, survived him, but hehad left instructions that his heirs should "never publish any of his writings," andthe poems remained all but forgotten for more than 200 years. In 1937 ThomasH. Johnson discovered a 7000-page quarto manuscript of Taylor's poetry in thelibrary of Yale University and published a selection from it in The New EnglandQuarterly. The appearance of these poems, wrote Taylor's biographer Norman S.Grabo, "established [Taylor] almost at once and without quibble as not onlyAmerica's finest colonial poet, but as one of the most striking writers in the wholerange of American literature." His most important poems, the first sections ofPreparatory Meditations (16821725) and God's Determinations Touching HisElect and the Elects Combat in Their Conversation and Coming up to God inChrist: Together with the Comfortable Effects Thereof (c. 1680), were publishedshortly after their discovery. His complete poems, however, were not publisheduntil 1960. He is the only major American poet to have written in themetaphysical style. Family and Death He was twice married, first to Elizabeth Fitch, by whom he had eight children,five of whom died in childhood, and at her death to Ruth Wyllys, who bore sixmore children. Taylor himself died on June 29, 1729.
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Ebb And Flow When first Thou on me, Lord, wroughtest Thy sweet print,My heart was made Thy tinder-box,My 'ffections were Thy tinder in't,Where fell Thy sparks by drops.Those holy sparks of heavenly fire that cameDid ever catch and often out would flame. But now my heart is made Thy censer trim,Full of Thy golden altar's fire,To offer up sweet incense inUnto Thyself entire:I find my tinder scarce Thy sparks can feelThat drop from out Thy holy flint and steel. Hence doubts out bud for fear Thy fire in me'S a mocking ignis fatuus,Or lest Thine altar's fire out be,It's hid in ashes thus.Yet when the bellows of Thy spirit blowAway mine ashes, then Thy fire doth glow. Edward Taylor
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Happy As The Day Is Long I take the long walk up the staircase to my secret room.Today's big news: they found Amelia Earhart's shoe, size 9.1992: Charlie Christian is bebopping at Minton's in 1941.Today, the Presidential primaries have failed us once again.We'll look for our excitement elsewhere, in the last snowthat is falling, in tomorrow's Gospel Concert in Springfield.It's a good day to be a cat and just sleep.Or to read the Confessions of Saint Augustine.Jesus called the sons of Zebedee the Sons of Thunder.In my secret room, plans are hatched: we'll explore the Smoky Mountains.Then we'll walk along a beach: Hallelujah!(A letter was just delivered by Overnight Express-it contained nothing of importance, I slept through it.)(I guess I'm trying to be 'above the fray.')The Russians, I know, have developed a language called 'Lincos'designed for communicating with the inhabitants of other worlds.That's been a waste of time, not even a postcard.But then again, there are tree-climbing fish, called anabases.They climb the trees out of stupidity, or so it is said.Who am I to judge? I want to break out of here.A bee is not strong in geometry: it cannot tella square from a triangle or a circle.The locker room of my skull is full of panting egrets.I'm saying that strictly for effect.In time I will heal, I know this, or I believe this.The contents and furnishings of my secret room will be labeledand organized so thoroughly it will be a little frightening.What I thought was infinite will turn out to be just a coupleof odds and ends, a tiny miscellany, miniature stuff, fragmentsof novelties, of no great moment. But it will also be enough,maybe even more than enough, to suggest an immense ritual and tradition.And this makes me very happy. Edward Taylor
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Head of a White Woman Winking She has one good bumblebeewhich she leads about townon a leash of clover.It's as big as a Saint Bernardbut also extremely fragile.People want to pet its long, shaggy coat.These would be mostly whirling dervishesout shopping for accessories.When Lily winks they understand everything,right down to the particleof a butterfly's wing lodgedin her last good eye,so the situation is avoided,the potential for a cataclysmis narrowly averted,and the bumblebee lugsits little bundle of shaved nervesforward, on a missionfrom some sick, young godhead. Edward Taylor
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Huswifery Make me, O Lord, Thy spinning-wheel complete.Thy holy word my distaff make for me.Make mine affections Thy swift flyers neatAnd make my soul Thy holy spool to be.My conversation make to be Thy reelAnd reel thy yarn thereon spun of Thy wheel. Make me Thy loom then, knit therein this twine:And make Thy Holy Spirit, Lord, wind quills:Then weave the web Thyself. Thy yarn is fine.Thine ordinances make my fulling-mills.Then dye the same in heavenly colors choice,All pinked with varnished flowers of paradise. Then clothe therewith mine understanding, will,Affections, judgement, conscience, memory,My words and actions, that their shine may fillMy ways with glory and Thee glorify.Then mine apparel shall display before YeThat I am clothed in holy robes for glory. Edward Taylor
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I Am The Living Bread: Meditation Eight: John 6:51 I kening through Astronomy DivineThe Worlds bright Battlement, wherein I spyA Golden Path my Pensill cannot line,From that bright Throne unto my Threshold ly.And while my puzzled thoughts about it poreI finde the Bread of Life int at my doore. When that this Bird of Paradise put inThis Wicker Cage (my Corps) to tweedle praiseHad peckt the Fruite forbad: and so did flingAway its Food; and lost its golden dayes;It fell into Celestiall Famine sore:And never could attain a morsell more. Alas! alas! Poore Bird, what wilt thou doe?The Creatures field no food for Souls ere gave.And if thou knock at Angells dores they showAn Empty Barrell: they no soul bread have.Alas! Poore Bird, the Worlds White Loafe is doneAnd cannot yield thee here the smallest Crumb. In this sad state, Gods Tender Bowells runOut streams of Grace: And he to end all strifeThe Purest Wheate in Heaven, his deare-dear SonGrinds, and kneads up into this Bread of Life.Which Bread of Life from Heaven down came and standsDisht on thy Table up by Angells Hands. Did God mould up this Bread in Heaven, and bake,Which from his Table came, and to thine goeth?Doth he bespeake thee thus, This Soule Bread take.Come Eate thy fill of this thy Gods White Loafe?Its Food too fine for Angells, yet come, takeAnd Eate thy fill. Its Heavens Sugar Cake. What Grace is this knead in this Loafe? This thingSouls are but petty things it to admire.Yee Angells, help: This fill would to the brimHeavns whelmd-down Chrystall meele Bowle, yea and higher.
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This Bread of Life dropt in thy mouth, doth Cry.Eate, Eate me, Soul, and thou shalt never dy. Edward Taylor
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Meditation Sixty-Two Second Series Canticle 1: 12: While the king sitteth at his table,my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. Oh! thou, my Lord, thou king of Saints, here makstA royall Banquet, thine to entertainWith rich and royall fare, Ce