The Poems of Edward Taylor

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UNC Press Books, 1989 - Poetry - 369 pages
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Now considered America's foremost colonial poet, Edward Taylor was virtually unknown until some of his poems were discovered in the Yale library and published in 1937. The intellectual brilliance and the emotional intensity of his poetical meditations hav
  

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Contents

V
1
VI
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VII
5
VIII
81
IX
261
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339
XI
340
XII
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XIII
343
XIV
344
XVI
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XVIII
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About the author (1989)

A Congregational minister engaged in the task of establishing a spiritual code in a new country, Taylor explored the discursive possibilities of the metaphysical tradition of George Herbert, John Donne, and Richard Crashaw. His Protestant religious convictions made his vocation of teacher and minister difficult in Restoration England. When Taylor refused to sign the 1662 Act of Uniformity, he was prevented from teaching school, and finally, in 1668, he set sail for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1671 Taylor graduated from Harvard College, and by 1673 he possessed his own parsonage and congregation in Westfield, Massachusetts. A year later he married Elizabeth Fitch, with whom he would have eight children. Their union lasted until her death. In 1692 Taylor married a second time; he and his second wife, Ruth Wyllys, would produce another six children. As a theologian, Taylor---like Milton and his Puritan forebears---needed to explain "God's ways to men," and both his poetry and his elaborate sermons endeavored to do so. Taylor's poetic meditations frequently dealt with divine love, while his sermons sought to teach the necessary doctrine that resulted from that love. But Taylor also tried to employ history, both cultural and personal, as an instructive device. In the early eighteenth century, Taylor inscribed an epic poem of over 20,000 lines that would later be published as A Metrical History of Christianity. Because Taylor preferred to be perceived as a minister, rather than as a writer, he went largely unpublished during his lifetime. But his use of metaphor, history, and language have established his reputation as an important American writer. His creative use of language has led contemporary critics to find his work particularly compelling.

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