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Edward Taylor biography

one of Americas finest poets from the 17th century
For over two hundred years America’s finest poet of the seventeenth century was unknown. Edward Taylor, born around 1642 in England during the Puritan domination, spent his childhood and young adult life to age 24 in his homeland, venturing in 1668 to the new country—New England. Immediately upon his arrival to the new country, he entered Harvard University. Three short years later Edward Taylor graduated from Harvard University and accepted a call to minister to the town of Westfield, Massachusetts. It would be in this little frontier town of Westfield, Massachusetts that Edward Taylor would spend the rest of his life. He died in 1729 serving God and the people of Westfield, Massachusetts. Edward Taylor was a very intellectual man and he took that intellect with him to that wilderness town helping to build defenses against Indians, civil disorder, diseases, heresy. Taylor’s life found its awareness and focal point in things of the spirit rather than things of the world. Taylor studied and meditated on things of the Lord for over 40 years. From 1682 to 1725, Taylor studied the mysteries of the Lord’s Supper. Holy Communion was something that Taylor found great mystery in and he studied upon the mystery of the sacrament putting his words into 217 long dramatic poems of a narrative nature called “God’s Determinations.” These preparatory mediations were of great importance to Taylor and he took great effort to make these writings devotional in nature. Taylor vehemently applied imagery and English meter to his poems. Although he poured his heart and soul into these works the majority of them were unpublished until the late 1930’s. Thomas Johnson discovered the manuscript, which was in the possession of the Yale University Library, and he recognized the importance of this manuscript as a great literary masterpiece. Edward Taylor’s poems show us that even the most traditional, very orthodox purest Puritan could paint a picture in the form of poetry. For Edward Taylor this form of writing was pure worship of the Lord. Edward Taylor saw the beauty and mystery of God’s hand in all of humankind and all of nature and wrote about it. In his “Treatise Concerning the Lord’s Supper,” written 1694 he urges that all “meditate upon the feast…its causes, its nature, its guests, its dainties, its reason, and ends: and its benefits, etc. For it carries in its nature and circumstances an umbrage, or epitomized draught of the whole grace of the gospel.” Edward Taylor held the sacrament universal as a focal point for almost everything he wrote. Edward Taylor considered the sacrament pure and holy and celebrated it often. Edward Taylor’s best known and perhaps most often quoted or cited poem is “Huswifery.”(家务) Edward Taylor argued that to participate in the Lord’s Supper they must have an appropriate “wedden garment.” Which he paralleled with the wedding feast of the kings son from Matthew 22:12 saying “It’s such a rich web that only the gospel markets afford; it’s such a web that is only wove in the looms of the gospel, nay, and a richer web and better huswifery it gets not up.” From “Huswifery,” he writes, “Make me O Lord, Thy spinning wheel complete 完美的纺织机. Thy holy Word my distaff 手纺用的缠线杆 make for me . . .Make me Thy loom 纺织机 then, knit therein this twine 线. . . then clothe therewith mine understanding, will, affections, judgment, conscience, memory; my words and actions, that their shine may fill my ways with glory and Thee glorify…that I am clothed in holy robes for glory.” Some of Edward Taylor’s more known works include:

· Upon a Spider Catching a Fly · The Ebb and Flow ( 《潮与涌》 ) · Upon Wedlock and Death of Children · God’s Determinations Touching His Elect (长诗《上帝对其选民有影响的决定》 ) · Preparatory Meditations (诗集《内省录》 ,全名为《准备领受圣餐前的内省》 ) Metrical History of Christianity (诗体叙史作品《诗体基督教史》) 此外诗人还写有一些布道、 日记等。 然而他的这些作品, 除了被 Cotton Mather 收录在其 《悲 时正思集》 (Right Thoughts in Sad Hours, 1689)中的两节诗歌(第五、七节)外,其他作品 默默无闻将近两百多年,直到 20 世纪 30 年代末,才开始有他的诗集出版。 圣餐(Lord’s Supper)和浸礼(baptism)同为表示上帝恩典契约的形式,获得上帝恩典者, 就有希望获得救赎,就能成为圣者(saint) 。但是,人类要不停地自我反省,纯洁自己的灵 魂,为获得上帝垂赐做“准备” 。然而,只有上帝选定的那些人才能获得救赎,这也意味着 相当一部分人无论怎样努力,也依然无法获得恩典,但泰勒认为,虽然上帝选民让人无法预 测,人们还是应当不停努力,只有这样,才有被上帝选中的可能。这一切,都是泰勒《内省 录》217 首诗中反复出现的主题:颂扬上帝,自我反省,净化灵魂。 Edward Taylor had written several verse elegies for many New England public figures showing himself as a master of colonial poetry in this particular form that showed many feelings prominent to the seventeenth century way of existence in a new land. “In heaven soaring up, I dropt an ear on earth: and oh! Sweet melody!… As travelers afoot: and so do trace the road that gives them right thereto; while in this coach these sweetly sing as they to glory ride therein.” (God’s Determination)


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