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(The previous post on this poem may be found here)

Stanza Two

The magnet of all admiration’s here.
Your tumbling thoughts turn here. Here is God’s Son,
Wove in a web of flesh, and blood rich gear.
Eternal wisdom’s housewifery well spun 10
Which through the law’s pure fulfilling mills did pass.
And so went home the wealthiest web that was.

Notes

This stanza will draw together imagery which at first seems completely unrelated: weaving, webs, mills, flesh and blood, death, and victory. And magnets.

The tone of this stanza is interesting in that the poet is speaking to himself. The first line could potentially be an objective state: The focus of all admiration the “magnet” of all admiration could be understood a fact beyond the poet’s particular concern: If he wrote the “sun is hot”, he would mean it is hot for everyone; but not just for him alone.

But in line 8, he clarifies that he is speaking about himself: “Your tumbling thoughts turn here.” This is the magnet of poet’s admiration: this is where his thoughts turn. It is a subtle aside, for certainly when he makes an apparently objective observation it would include himself. But by speaking directly to himself, he implicitly ignores the rest of the world. For me, this is the magnet of admiration, this is where my thoughts turn.

Referring to Christ as magnetic is interesting. Calling some “magnetic” is so cliché as to not even be used a cliché, but magnets were a far more curious object at this time.

In 1618, a book was published which contained the known scientific investigation of magnetism (begun by William Gilbert, d. 1603), the title page reading as follows:

MAGNETICALL Aduertisements: OR
DIVERS PERTINENT obseruations, and approued ex∣periments, concerning the natures and pro∣perties of the Load-stone.
Uery pleasant for knowledge, and most needfull for practise, of trauelling, or fra∣ming of Instruments fit for Trauellers both by Sea and Land.
Whereunto is annexed a breife Discouerie of the idle Animaduersions of MARK RIDLEY Dr. in Physicke, vpon this Treatise entituled Magneticall Aduertisements.

ACTS 17. 26.He hath made of one bloud all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation, that they should seeke the Lord, &c.
The second Edition.
LONDON, Printed by Edward Griffin for Timothy Barlow, and are to be sold at his shop in Pauls Church-yard, at the signe of Time. 1618.

Richard Sibbes (two generations before Taylor) made use of magnetism in an image similar to Taylor’s use here (the magnet as an image of desire):

Christ’s love in us, is as the loadstone to the iron. Our hearts are heavy and downwards of themselves. We may especially know his love by this, that it draws us upwards, and makes us heavenly minded. It makes us desire further and further communion with him. Still there is a magnetical attractive force in Christ’s love. Wheresoever it is, it draws the heart and affections after it.

Richard Sibbes, The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 2 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet And Co.; W. Robertson, 1862), 77. And:

Desires are the immediate issue of the soul, the motion and stirring of the same to something that likes it. When there is anything set before the soul having a magnetical force, as the loadstone, to draw out the motions thereof, we call that desire, though for the present it enjoys it not.

Richard Sibbes, The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 1 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1862), 338.

This object of desire is the Son of God:

            Here is God’s Son,

Wove in a web of flesh, and blood rich gear.


The 9th line begins with an accented “wove”. The lack of a pause before this word gives it a special emphasis, it is further underscored by being alliterative with “web.” The image startling: wove and web bring an air of a spider’s web. The Son of God is now utterly bound-up in flesh. The second half of the line “blood rich gear” is even more striking. By gear, we outstanding that the Son of God has been outfitted, but outfitted with “blood.” Blood rich at first seems to indicate the color of the gear. But this also alludes to the eventual death of Christ where his blood was poured out.

What weapon does Christ then possess, what gear? Death. The gear will be blood. There is yet another possible use of blood here: When a warrior is proceeding and covered in blood, the implication is that he is covered in his enemy’s blood and that he will not be stopped:

Isaiah 63:1–6 (ESV)
63 Who is this who comes from Edom,
in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,
he who is splendid in his apparel,
marching in the greatness of his strength?
“It is I, speaking in righteousness,
mighty to save.”
2 Why is your apparel red,
and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?
3 “I have trodden the winepress alone,
and from the peoples no one was with me;
I trod them in my anger
and trampled them in my wrath;
their lifeblood spattered on my garments,
and stained all my apparel.
4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
and my year of redemption had come.
5 I looked, but there was no one to help;
I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold;
so my own arm brought me salvation,
and my wrath upheld me.
6 I trampled down the peoples in my anger;
I made them drunk in my wrath,
and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”

By using the phrase “blood rich gear,” Taylor manages to evoke multiple aspects of Christ’s work and life.

The weaving now comes back as image of domestic industry. This is a good example of how one must be careful not to impose one’s own expectations upon a text: The idea of web and wove, although appropriate of a spider, are not the aspects which Taylor draws out. Domestic weaving is something completely beyond my experience, but would be commonplace for Taylor.
Eternal wisdom has brought forth this work of God in Christ: God made flesh, well-spun. That workmanship (the housewifery) passed through the law: Christ fulfilled the demands of the law: he went through the “wringer” as we might say. To pass through a mill would be grain broken between two millstones. But the effect upon Christ was not his destruction, but rather to be possessed not of a destroyed garment but one the costliest of all:

Eternal wisdom’s housewifery well spun 10
Which through the law’s pure fulfilling mills did pass.
And so went home the wealthiest web that was.

The admiration is the success of the Son of God in so passing in blood rich gear.

This last set of images evokes the weaving & the blood image: for to pass through the mill would be completely destroy – and yet here, not destroy.

The alliteration on the “w” throughout this stanza also draws it tight