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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

3. Utopian

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Activities: Author Activities

Edward Taylor - Author Questions

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  1. Comprehension: How does the main text of "Meditation 8" relate to the poem's prefatory biblical citation ("John 6.51. I am the Living Bread")? What is the extended metaphor at work in this poem? What is the significance of Taylor's focus on a basic domestic chore that is usually performed by women? Do you notice similar imagery in any of Taylor's other poems?

  2. Context: Compare Taylor's "Prologue" to the Preparatory Meditations and "Meditation 22" with Bradstreet's "Prologue" and "The Author to Her Book." How do these Puritan poets deal with their anxiety about their own literary authority? Do they share similar concerns? How are they different? What conclusions do they arrive at?

  3. Exploration: The only book of poetry known to have had a place in Taylor's personal library was Anne Bradstreet's Tenth Muse. Does his poetry seem influenced by her work? How is it different? How does his work fit or not fit within the tradition of "plain style"? Many critics have argued that Taylor's poetry is best understood within the tradition of the English metaphysical poets, such as John Donne and George Herbert. Metaphysical poetry is characterized by its ornate language and by its profusion of metaphors and paradoxes. Where do you see this style at work in Taylor's poetry? Does he seem more comfortable with one style than the other? Does he ever seem to meld the two?

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