The Poetical Works of Edward Taylor

The Poetical Works of Edward Taylor

The Poetical Works of Edward Taylor

The Poetical Works of Edward Taylor

Excerpt

It does not seem necessary to offer a defense for presenting selections from the "Poetical Works" of Edward Taylor. The verses themselves of this hitherto unknown colonial American poet have merit enough to carry the volume. The sequence of Gods Determinations is a well sustained unit, and thus is published entire. The five short poems are unusual prosodic examples, unlike any other verse written by Taylor's New England contemporaries. Some selection from among the two hundred and seventeen Sacramental Meditations became necessary, lest the volume be swollen beyond all reasonable bounds. The thirty-two that are chosen seem to be among the best, and adequately represent the quality of all. They have been picked with an eye to displaying the essential nature of Taylor's thought and expression. Of the remaining poemata, none seemed of sufficient importance to merit inclusion.

In preparing the text from manuscript, the first consideration has been given to such transcription as accurately represents what Taylor wrote. Spelling, capitalization, and line-spacings follow Taylor exactly, and the few deviations that have been made are recorded in the notes. Intimate acquaintance with Taylor's handwriting has only served to increase the doubt regarding his use of capital "s"; it merges so imperceptibly into the small that some discretion has been necessary. The reader might find grounds for arguing that every "s" used is a capital.

At the same time, no useful purpose can be served by transcribing manuscript peculiarities that are merely "quaint" to the modern eye or ear, and really no part of any "flavor" that Taylor intended. To avoid them therefore, the following changes have been consistently adopted. All manuscript abbreviations have been expanded: ye becomes the; ym, them;&, and; thô, though;m+̃;wch,which; chh, church; etc. The long "s" is shortened; the double "f," intended as a capital, is capitalized; and the modern equivalents for the initial "v" meaning "u," or the internal "u" meaning "v," have been uniformly adopted. In two or three instances quotation marks, never used by Taylor, have been added to avoid confusion. In one respect only has liberty been taken, and that very sparingly. Seventeenthcentury punctuation differs so markedly from present day usage that . . .

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