Critically discuss Bradstreet to my dear and loving husband with Edward Taylor Huswifery to demonstrate the contrast and similarities between the two poets include direct quotes
Critically discuss Bradstreet to my dear and loving husband with Edward Taylor Huswifery to demonstrate the contrast and similarities between the two poets include direct quotes.
EDWARD TAYLOR’s POEMS—I think the story is by now well known—were discovered in a bound manuscript book in Yale University Library in the middle of the 1930s by a scholar named Thomas Johnson. Taylor had died in the village of Westfield, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1729. His tombstone said he was eighty-seven years old.
He had arrived in the Massachusetts colony sixty-one years before, in 1668, when the entire English settlement in the New England forests consisted of something between twenty and thirty thousand souls and the village of Westfield not much more than a hundred.
Johnson published a few of Taylor’s poems in an antiquarian journal in 1937. A first book of the poems, The Poetical Works of Edward Taylor, followed in 1939, after which poets and scholars began to read him and write about him. In 1960—just between the publications of Robert Lowell’s Life Studies and John Ashbery’s The Tennis Court Oath—Donald Stanford’s The Poems of Edward Taylor put all of Taylor’s major poems before American readers. It was a somewhat belated literary debut.
It was also an imposing, rather startling body of work. At the center of it was a sequence of 219 poems, written from 1682 to 1724, from the time Taylor was forty years old until he was eighty-two, entitled “Preparatory Meditations before my Approach to the Lords Supper. Chiefly upon the Doctrin preached upon the Day of administration.”
There was also an ambitious long poem on Calvinist doctrine, made out of thirty-six individualpoems and several thousand lines, called Gods Determination; eight miscellaneous lyrics written, the scholarly guess is, sometime before 1689; a formal elegy on the death of his first wife from 1689; another on the death of one of Taylor’s colleagues, the Hartford minister Thomas Hooker, in 1697; an undated poem in couplets, called “A Fig for Thee Oh! Death”; two other undated poems in couplets, “The Martyrdom of Deacon Lawrence” and “The Persian Persecution”; and a piece in what was his characteristic form, the rhymed six-line stanza of the “Preparatory Meditation,” called “The Sparkling Shine of Gods Justice.”
There was more work, none of it adding much to our sense of Taylor’s accomplishment, and it has been printed in the intervening years.
Almost everything about Edward Taylor and his poetry was unexpected. The unexpectedness of the poetry itself lay in the intersection of its quality, its quantity, its history, and its style, the peculiarities of its style.
That a large body of poetry had turned up, written by a Puritan parson in the latter years of the seventeenth century in a village on the remotest western frontier of colonial New England, was not so surprising given the culture of literacy among the Puritan English colonists and the level of education required of Puritan ministers.
The first surprise was that it was so good. Scholars in the 1940s were quite prepared to recognize its provenance, if not its value. Serious study of the intellectual and theological foundations of New England were flourishing; and, more crucially, it was the high tide, in English departments, of the study of the seventeenth-century poets, the metaphysicals from Donne through Traherne, to whom modernist practice and the essays of T. S.
Eliot had given so much authority. Students of the poems saw immediately what tradition Taylor belonged to and how deeply he was rooted in it. Another surprise was that a poet so good—although the assessments of how good he was were quite mixed—had lain unnoticed for so long.