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"Huswifery" and more

Edward Taylor
by

Jane Brewer

on 17 October 2013

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Transcript of "Huswifery" and more

"Huswifery"
Poem by: Edward Taylor
Edward Taylor
The character of the poem is compared to clothing being spun in the hands of God.
Each stanza reflects a different part of the process of spinning thread into cloth just as a person must go through stages in dealing with his faith.
It demonstrates how God fits into all aspects of life.
It is in the form of a prayer.
The speaker asks for forgiveness
The poet believes God has the power to make him become a better person.
Theme = urges us to be closer to God. He devoted his life to God and asks for help in his prayers.
Historical Context
Born in Leicestershire, England in 1642
Under the restoration of the monarchy and the Act of Uniformity under Charles II Taylor, he was banned from teaching.
This led to him and many other Puritans to emigrate to the colonies in 1688.
He kept a diary of his journey across the Atlantic.
He lived in Massachusetts and went to Harvard
Became a Physician and Pastor
Type of Poem: Meditation/Prayer
When it was written, people were really religious and wanted to be closer to God.
The Act of Uniformity (1662) was the second statute that made use of the Book of Common Prayer compulsory in religious service.
About 2000 clergy refused to agree with this act, and were forced to resign.
Most of them were Puritans and headed for the colonies.
He was married twice
Had 14 children in total, 5 who died in childhood.
Before, his death in 1729, he left instructions to his heirs to "Never publish any of his work" and they didn't for about 200 years.
Only parts of his works were published until in 1960, when his diary was published
His works usually reflected his deep religious views.
Taylor was the first major American poet to uses metaphorical styles in his poems.
The title refers to daily domestic activities, such as weaving, in relation to every day lives of the Puritans and their faith.

The word "HUSWIFERY" means "housekeeping"
Why would this be a perfect topic for a Puritan poem?

Taylor uses metaphors to explain how he wants God to make him as one would make a fabric by weaving.
In the poem, God is the spinner, spinning the wheel to make him.
The poem is about Taylor's surrender to God.
"Huswifery"
Spinning Wheel
This poem uses a device called a "conceit." A conceit is an extended metaphor. Consider this passage from Romeo and Juliet:
This night you shall behold him at our feast
Read o'er the volume of young Paris' face
And find delight writ there with beauty's pen
Examine every married lineament
And see how one another lends content,
And what obscured in this fair volume lies
Find written in the margin of his eyes.
This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
To beautify him only lacks a cover.
That book in many's eyes doth share the glory
that in gold clasps locks in the golden story.
How does this poem demonstrate other characteristics of the Puritan society?

Puritan Work Ethic?
Predestimation?
Absolute Sovreignty?
Edwards was generally unknown during his lifetime. Some believe he chose not to publish his poems because the joyousness and delight in sensory experience ran counter to Puritan attitudes. Poetry was thought to be for moral instruction only. The discovery in 1930s of a stash of Taylor's poetry is considered one of the major literary finds of the twentieth century.
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