Taylor, Edward

Taylor, Edward,

c.1642–1729, American poet and clergyman, b. England, considered America's foremost colonial poet. He immigrated to America in 1668 and graduated from Harvard in 1671. From then until his death, he served as Congregational minister for Westfield, Mass. An ardent Puritan, Taylor agreed completely with the Calvinistic beliefs of his time. His best poems, "God's Determinations" and "Preparatory Meditations," show a strong similarity to the English devotional metaphysical poetsmetaphysical poets,
name given to a group of English lyric poets of the 17th cent. The term was first used by Samuel Johnson (1744). The hallmark of their poetry is the metaphysical conceit (a figure of speech that employs unusual and paradoxical images), a reliance on
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. Since he did not publish his poems in his lifetime, his poetry remained in manuscript until 1937. In 1939, T. H. Johnson published a selection of his poems. The best edition of Taylor's works was edited by D. E. Stanford in 1960.


See studies by N. S. Grabo (1962), D. Stanford (1965), and W. J. Scheik (1974).

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Taylor, Edward

(1645–1729) Protestant clergyman, poet; born near Coventry, England. Refusing to take the oath of conformity required of English schoolteachers, he emigrated to Massachusetts in 1668, graduated from Harvard three years later, and became a physician/pastor in Westfield, Mass., where he remained to the end of his life. At his death, he left a manuscript of his "Poetical Works." His poems, many on religious themes, were not published until the late 1930s, at which time he was recognized as the finest American poet of the 17th century. A comprehensive edition, The Poems of Edward Taylor, appeared in 1960.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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