Follow on Facebook

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Critical Analysis of Edward Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations - Poetry

A Critical Analysis of Edward Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations - Poetry 

Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations, poems composed prior to administering the Lords Supper, seem to me to be quite doctrinal or theological in nature and reveal Taylor's complete emotional investment and devotion to a very relational though transcendent God. Rich with expressions of personal insufficiency and longing, Taylor's imagery at times makes evident a love for the pure sound of lexical expression. The best poetry seems to me able to sing itself. Edwards effectively uses extended metaphor and biblical allusions in Meditation 1 when he writes in stanza one, “What hath thy Godhead, as not satisfide Marri'de our Manhood, making it its Bride?” This makes reference to both the hypostatic union of Christology and the Church as the bride of Christ. Such poetry invites the study of the structure and content of word forms as well as theological inquiry. "Preparatory Meditations before My Approach to the Lord's Supper, " is a collection of 217 poems written between 1682 and 1725 and they are, so far, my favorite of Taylor’s poems. His use of metaphor is at times even sensual. I notice the use of strong action words in Meditation 1 such as Confinde, Conjoyn’d, Marri’de, filling Heaven to the brim!, O’re running it, Overflowing Hell, rose a mighty Tide, though thy Person bleed, To quench those flames, feed, etc. Coupled with a relentless cadence toppling forward with powerful imagery not unlike a freight train wherein the glorious supremacy and sovereignty of God as themes are centrally delivered. Most of the meditations seem to include some expression of inadequacy by Edwards, as if he were not up to the task of expressing accurately anything about this infinite, omnipotent, preeminent God who has created Heaven and earth and all that therein is. “My Fireless Flame! What Chilly Love, and Cold? In measure small! In Manner Chilly! See. Lord blow the Coal: Thy Love Enflame in mee.” But this inadequacy seems to then give way to the anointed preacher in Taylor who will sing a mighty song of worship, praise, and prayerful request to the Almighty triune God with fervor and zeal that could not be contained. In Meditation 1 especially, I find Edwards’ exuberance to be sincere and infectious through the sing song musicality of his verses. These poems do not strike me as having been written to achieve critical acclaim. Similar to the work of Anne Bradstreet in a sense, I believe Taylor’s poetry to primarily be genuine and natural acts of worship; simply doing what his Creator designed and destined him to do. Meditation 1 is introspective and conveys the personal and private relationship of a man born into sin with a very transcendent, holy, and infinitely loving God. 

© 2009 Brian L Hunter 

No comments:

Post a Comment