Poesie: E. Taylor’s Huswifery

Did you know that none of Edward Taylor’s poetry was published until 1939?

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So many of our ancestors came to America in the 17th century, and some lived in Massachusetts just like Edward Taylor did, who was born in England and went to live in the New World in 1668. The itemized domestic allegory that we find in this poem was, they say, a staple feature of sermons and didactic verse at the time, so what we find here would be the same kind of sermon and poetry that our ancestors were accustomed to back in the day.

Incidentally: The spelling of the poem is modernized in the version below, giving “complete” for “compleate”, “Word” for Worde”, “soul” for “Soule” and the like.  If you prefer the old spelling, read the poem at the PoetryFoundation.


Make me, O Lord, Thy spinning wheel complete.
Thy Holy Word my distaff make for me.
Make mine affections Thy swift flyers neat
And make my soul thy holy Spool to be.
My conversation make to be Thy reel
And reel the yarn thereon spun of Thy wheel.

Make me Thy loom then, knit therein this twine:
And make Thy Holy Spirit, Lord, wind quills:
Then weave the web Thyself. The yarn is fine.
Thine ordinances make my fulling mills.
Then dye the same in heavenly colors choice,
All pinked with varnished flowers of paradise.

Then clothe therewith mine understanding, will,
Affections, judgment, conscience, memory
My words, and actions, that their shine may fill
My ways with glory and Thee glorify.
Then mine apparel shall display before Ye
That I am clothed in holy robes for glory.

~ Edward Taylor

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