Edward Taylor's Poetry Background

Edward Taylor's Poetry Background

His work, remained unknown until the mid of the XX century, is now recognized as the top of American poetry of colonial period. Edward Taylor came to America in 1668, went to Harvard (1668-1671), adopted holy orders after its graduating, and in the same year he became a priest in Westfield (MA), where he lived for all his life. Since 1682 he wrote a poem, inappropriate to the biblical text, simultaneously with another sermon. Two of their cycles (more than 200 poems) were "Prep meditations» (Preparatory Meditations before my Approach to the Lords Supper, 1682-1725) - the most valuable part of Taylor’s poetic heritage.

Common to all meditative poetry of the XVII century motifs (such as depravity of a man’s nature and the inevitability of punishment, God's mercy, salvation, etc) are typical for Taylor’s lyrics, but Taylor is original in their interpretation and poetic incarnation. Cold edification and stern dogmatism is peculiar for Puritan poetry, are replaced by his lyrical elation, emotional tensity. The poems are full of great inner dramatism. A bold imagery, built on a combination of biblical motifs and everyday realities, is also quite worthy. His didactic poem "Predestination of the Lord regarding the elect» (God's Determinations Touching his Elect, the date of writing is not set), more traditional than lyric, is devoted to presenting of the main doctrine of Puritanism. It is written smoothly, but some passages are close to his lyrics in conciseness and spontaneity of expressing the feelings. On the whole, his poetry reveals similarities with the baroque poetics.

According to the Taylor’s will, his poetic heritage was not subject to publication. It remained in manuscripts, which were discovered in the library of Yale only in 1937 and then study and publication of poet's legacy began, the best works of which are worthy of comparison with the samples of English metaphysical poetry of the XVII century. The most complete edition of Taylor's poems was published in 1960.

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