Upon Wedlock, and Death of Children

23 Sep

The dominant metaphor here is of a garden, or flower-bed, as representing life, or perhaps a family (it’s a little unclear); only complication is that Taylor calls a garden a “knot.”

Struggles one faces in life, then, are “hellish breath”s, etc. Children are new flowers growing from the stem.  “Crop this flower” suggests one child died. Sign that Christ loves your child and wants him or her…. Things get better when  more children are born, and then one gets sick as an infant and dies after six weeks of suffering, maybe.

Really, in spite of the metaphor or conceit, this is another poem about viewing your life, and what transpires, of where you stand in God’s estimation, familiar from all the Puritan writers…. There is also the element of consolation, of trying to make sense of tragedy and to find reasons to not mourn so much.

The poem closes with a restatement of this theme: that we all live in God’s hands, that we are his creation, and we should accept that he will dispose of us as he will.

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2 Responses to “Upon Wedlock, and Death of Children”

  1. Kim,namjoo April 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    After reading this poem, I thought about two things.
    I just wonder why this poem was not allowed to publicize at that time. Because this poem doesnt contain any harmful thing.
    Is it possible to think that he admires god? I mean he must have hated god, because his children are dead. Could it be possible that he just show his sad by using positive expression?

    • mattdube April 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

      I don’t know for sure why Taylor wouldn’t publish this poem when he was alive, but my guess would be that he thought it was too personal. The Puritans drew the sphere of private and public space differently than we do, and I think this would’ve been inside the private sphere. Compare it to poems like the Preparatory Meditations– while those might have been “private” in the sense that they are behind the scenes pep talks, they are almost-public, because they are Taylor getting ready to say something publicly. The struggle over God’s goodness on “Upon wedlock” is a different kind of thing, though: Taylor thinks that no one cares about his dead children (after all, everyone has some), and his doubts as a pastor won’t help anyone else to accept those deaths, just making it harder. I think it did Taylor good to think about these things, but he doubts it would help anyone else, so he doesn’t want to share his thoughts. Or that’s my thinking, at least.

      I do think he is sincere in believing in God’s goodness. He might doubt it more here than he does other places, but it never feels as passionate to me as some other Puritan poems that really do question God more fully, like Anne Bradstreet’s “Here follows some verses on the burning of our house.” That, to me, feels less convinced that Taylor does, less ready or able to fit it into a conventional metaphor like a garden.

      But that’s just me.
      Matt, yr blog author

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