Monday, June 20, 2011


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Crystal dela Plata

English 01

Mrs. Kohli

An Analysis of Edward Taylor’s poem “Huswifery”

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“Huswifery” is a poem written by Edward Taylor. Edward Taylor was most likely born in 164, in Leicestershire, England (Rowe 456). He was the son of a yeoman farmer and studied at Cambridge University (Rowe 456). “As a preacher and a Puritan, […], Talyor felt spiritually unworthy of God’s grace” (Rowe 458). This is seen through his peotic works as he uses different metaphysical conceits in each of his poems to show his love for God, as well as, the collective aspects of his spirituality. Edward Taylor uses metaphysical conceit in his poem “Huswifery” to portray each of his spiritual blessings as a part of the whole of himself through the art of weaving.

Taylor uses the art of weaving as metaphysical conceit to describe each spiritual part of his self as a tool being spun for God’s use. Taylor already feels unworthy of God’s grace; he is simply asking to be used of God. In the poem Taylor writes, “Make mee, O Lord, thy Spining Wheele compleat” (1). Here Taylor is using metaphysical conceit to allude that his soul is the Spining Wheele and he is pleading for God to make his soul complete within Christ. He is recognizing that he needs God to make him complete. Taylor then asks God to make “Thy Holy Words my Distaff make for mee / Make mine Affections thy Swift Flyers neate” (-). Taylor is comparing God’s holy words to the distaff of a spinning wheel, which “holds the flax or raw wool” (Lauter 467). He wants God’s words to be the stability that holds him up and keeps him going for God’s glory. His is also saying let my affections be those of your affections. He also use metaphysical conceit to compare his soul to the spool and his conversation to the reel when he says, “And make my Soule they holy Spoole to bee. / My Conversation to be thy Reele” (4-5). His soul is the spool on which he wants God’s blessings to be spun and for them to be spun his conversation has to be the reel on which God’s message is sent. Taylor also writes, “Then weave the Web thyselfe. The yarn is fine. / Thine Ordinances make my Fulling Mills” (-11). Here Taylor is referring to God’s ordinances or laws as the tools to make him full, or also humble and strong in God’s word so Satan or temptation does not ever win in his life. Or simply, to make His laws known to Taylor so that Taylor does not ever sin against him. In the end of the poem he sums it all up literally as

…cloath therewith mine Understanding, Will,

Affections, Judgment, Conscience, Memory

My Words, & Actions, that their shine may fill

My wayes with glory and thee glorify.

Then mine apparel shall display before yee

That I am Cloathd in Holy robes for glory (1-18).

Here Taylor is summing up what is said in the first two stanzas. He is insinuating that all of these, his understanding, will, affections, judgment, conscience, memory, words and action will come together as one with God’s guidance to glorify God in everything he does. He is also making a typological reference to the garments of salvation and robes of righteousness talked about in Isaiah 1610. He wants his whole body to be model of Christian charity.

In conclusion, Edward Taylor uses metaphysical conceit in his poem “Huswifery” to compare each aspect of his character to a part of the tools used for weaving. Taylor does this to make a reference to his self as a tool being used for God’s glorification. He want to give God the glory not only externally through his words and actions, but also internally through his understanding, judgment, and conscience, just to name a few, so that his can grow in God’s grace to become and stay one of God’s chosen elect. He uses metaphysical conceit to weave a poem that will garment God’s greatness, as well as, his desire to be used for God.

Works Cited

Lauter, Paul, Ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 5th ed., vol. 1. New York W.W. Norton, 18.

Rowe, Karen E. “Edward Taylor 164?-17”. Paul Lauter, Ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 5th ed., vol. 1. New York W.W. Norton, 18. (456-45).

Taylor, Edward. “Huswifery”. Paul Lauter, Ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 5th ed., vol. 1. New York W.W. Norton, 18. (467-468).

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