October Poem--Edward Taylor-Upon a Wasp Chlled With Cold

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Another Puritan (a sure winner in Erik's book :-), but a magnificent and much neglected poet. I've been hard-pressed to find much of his stuff on the web or in print. It's a shame. He has a series of meditations on Biblical Texts that are unmatched by just about anything from the time period. Note in the poem an extremely elaborate conceit that takes a while to settle into its proper outlines.

A couple of hints--

hasp--can mean many things but the most likely reading here is "to confine" or "to encompass."

fustian--can mean a cloth or bombastic language, so this initially threw me until I recalled that as an adjective it may also mean worthless, petty, pretentious; however, another intriguing reading is "made-up or imaginary"

Enjoy the poem--it is quite rich.

Upon a Wasp Chilled with Cold
Edward Taylor

The Bear that breathes the Northern blast
Did numb, Torpedo-like,a Wasp
Whose stiffened limbs encramped, lay bathing
In Sol's warm breath and shine as saving,
Which with her hands she chafes and stands
Rubbing her Legs, Shanks, Thighs, and hands.
Her petty toes, and fingers' ends
Nipped with this breath, she out extends
Unto the Sun, in great desire
To warm her digits at that fire.
Doth hold her Temples in this state
Where pulse doth beat, and head doth ache.
Doth turn, and stretch her body small,
Doth Comb her velvet Capital.
As if her little brain pan were
A Volume of Choice precepts clear.
As if her satin jacket hot
Contained Apothecary's Shop
Of Nature's receipts, that prevails
To remedy all her sad ails,
As if her velvet helmet high
Did turret rationality.
She fans her wing up to the Wind
As if her Pettycoat were lined,
With reason's fleece, and hoists sails
And humming flies in thankful gales
Unto her dun Curled palace Hall
Her warm thanks offering for all.

Lord, clear my misted sight that I
May hence view Thy Divinity,
Some sparks whereof Thou up dost hasp
Within this little downy Wasp
In whose small Corporation we
A school and a schoolmaster see,
Where we may learn, and easily find
A nimble Spirit bravely mind
Her work in every limb: and lace
It up neat with a vital grace,
Acting each part though ne'er so small
Here of this Fustian animal,
Till I enravished Climb into
The Godhead on this Ladder do,
Where all my pipes inspired upraise
An Heavenly music furred with praise.

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Not to pick nits, but you misspelled "wiener." Har har har.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 29, 2003 6:51 AM.

Revisiting Great Poetry--Dylan's "Magnificat" was the previous entry in this blog.

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