Edward Taylor

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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Among the many types of poetry in early American literature, metaphysical poetry was a style in which Edward Taylor chose to write. Edward Taylor was born in 1642 in England into a Puritan background. Metaphysical poetry was first introduced in 1744 by Samuel Johnson. Before Edward Taylor was even born, other great poets such as John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughn, and Andrew Marvell had already lived and died. Although all of these poets had already came before him, Edward Taylor became the only American metaphysical poet. Edward Taylor's poetry is metaphysical because it consisted of divine ideas, metaphors, and great imagery.

Puritanism was a way of life for Edward Taylor. He was a writer and minister truly dedicated to God. In the poem entitled, "Upon a Spider Catching a Fly", Taylor explains how a wasp, fly, spider, and a web represent a Puritan struggle between good and evil.

These images are paralleled to Puritan beliefs of sin leading to man's entrapment by evil forces. Since man cannot be rescued by humans, it is the elect decision of God that chooses who will be taken to Heaven, and who will be destroyed. First off, the web symbolically represents a trap for all sinners. Everything outside of the web is intended for sinless humans. Sin leads mankind to death escaped only by a chosen elect from God. The spider in this poem represent the devil. Both the wasp and the fly are a symbols for mankind. The fly on one hand represents a sinner and a non-believer of the Puritan religion. In contrast to the fly, the wasp is a symbol of a sinner that is a chosen elect from God to be saved. The wasp is a Puritan because of his willingness to fight against evil. Since the wasp...