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The 28th Meditation of Edward Taylor takes as its text John 1:16. In context, the passage (as it would have stood in Taylor’s Bible) reads as follows:

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. 

John 1:14–18  

The poem will center upon the receipt of the grace which is in the Word made Flesh. However, as is a consistent theme in Taylor, it begins with the distance from God and the disorder of mind. Although not discussed in this place, the noetic effect of sin – the disordering effect of sin upon the thoughts, affections and behavior – lies behind  his description of his sense as “bewildered” and his “befogged dark fancy”. 

It should be noted that the effects are not simply in a cause-and-effect relationship with some particular sinful action, but are inherent in any human being on this earth. The damage done by Adam’s fall is not completely removed prior to one’s death and personal resurrection.

The poem begins with a self-conscious discussion of the poem itself as a matter of praise, sending some “glory home”. But this glory is returned in small sums, “bits” rather than in “lumps.” (Incidentally, “lumps” does not have the negative connotations it does in contemporary vernacular.) The first stanza reads:

When I Lord, send some bits of glory home

(For lumps I lack) my messenger, I find,

Bewildered, lose his way being alone

In my befogged dark fancy, clouded mind.

Thy bits of glory packed in shreds of praise

My messenger doth lose, losing his ways.

The first line creates an interesting rhythmic effect by beginning with a Bacchic foot: “when I LORD” followed by a pause.  The unusual English rhythm ending on a stress followed by a pause is difficult to read. The awkwardness creates an emphasis on the words. The vocative, Lord, would normally stand at the beginning of a clause, “Lord, when I send ….” Thus, the relationship between “I” and “Lord” is foregrounded.

The remainder of the first line and the second then flow along more easily. However, the poem introduces a puzzling reference, “my messenger”. The messenger is the means by which he is returning glory to the Lord. The precise identity of the messenger is not otherwise clarified. What is the means by which he is sending glory home: the messenger is the poem itself.

And so, as is common in Taylor, his poem is in part about the poem itself. His thinking which creates the poem is bewildered. His “befogged dark fancy” would be the weakness of his ability to conceive and create the poem.

And here comes the problem: he seeks to return some glory to the Lord within the praise which is the poem itself, but the glory falls out (is lost) from the poem:

Thy bits of glory packed in shreds of praise

My messenger doth lose, losing his ways.