Thomas M. Davis A Reading of Edward Taylor

ISBN 13: 9780874134285

A Reading of Edward Taylor

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9780874134285: A Reading of Edward Taylor
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A Reading of Edward Taylor is a study of Taylor's poetry in the sense that Thomas M. Davis is interested in how the nature of the poems evolves during the nearly fifty years Taylor served as minister in Westfield, Massachusetts. The first part of the book examines the long doctrinal poem, Gods Determinations, as the poem in which Taylor emerges as an accomplished poet. The final section of the poem, the "Choral Epilogue," with its emphasis on praising God in song, leads directly to the initial poems of the Preparatory Meditations, the more than two hundred meditative poems that Taylor wrote over the next forty years.
The early poems in Series 1 exhibit only loosely organized sequences; some are directly prompted by the Lord's Supper, but many are related in only indirect ways to the Sacrament. These poems, in their range and celebration of the joys of grace, are some of Taylor's best. In Meditations 19-22, he writes four interlocked poems dealing with the relation of his poetry to his spiritual condition. Despite Taylor's disclaimers about the quality of his poetry, in these poems he also makes his most elevated claim about his ability to praise.
What reservations he has about his ability to praise adequately are relatively minor in subsequent Meditations. But after the death of his wife, Elizabeth, Taylor reexamines the nature of his poetry and the relationship of grace to his ability to write in praise of Christ. And he begins to equate shoddy poetry with his own sin. In the central Meditations in this process, Meditations 39 and 40, the intense examination of his sinful state ("My Sin! my Sin, My God, these Cursed Dregs. . .") leads him to beg Christ to destroy his (Taylor's) sins so that his "rough Feet shall [Christ's] smooth praises sing." By the end of Series 1, he has come to accept a more limited view of the possibility of writing praise commensurate with Christ's glory. He acknowledges that until he receives the Crown of Life "I cannot sing, my tongue is tide. / Accept this Lisp till I am glorifide."
He then turns at the beginning of Series 2 to the poems on typology. These poems are often mechanical, particularly those where he is too strictly bound by the large number of typological parallels. He also recognizes these limitations and moves increasingly to other texts, particularly those from the Canticles. In the allegory of the Song, Taylor finds the openness and sensuous imagery that allow him to express as fully as is possible his love of Christ and his passionate desire to be with the Bridegroom in the heavenly Garden. The more than forty Meditations based on Canticles texts near the end of Series 2 reveal Taylor's sense of drawing closer and closer to being in the Garden itself, and of replacing his "lisp" with the true voice of the glorified.

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9781611491586: A Reading of Edward Taylor

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ISBN 10:  1611491584 ISBN 13:  9781611491586
Publisher: University of Delaware Press, 1992
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