Lord clear the cost: and let thy sweet sun-shine
That I may better speed a second time:
Oh! Fill my pipkin with thy bloodred wine:
I’ll drink thy health: to pledge thee is no crime.
Although I but an earthen vessel be
Convey some of my fullness to thee.
The image of a coast picks up on the “befogged dark fancy, clouded mind.” In days before the Coast Guard and lighthouses and radar and exhaustive maps, a cloudy coast would be an enormous danger.
Here the coast is not a physical location, but rather the affections and mind “befogged” by the effects of sin and the fall. Without going through the entire doctrine here, which goes under the title “the noetic effects of sin,” it is sufficient to know that the residual effects of sin persist as long we exist in this world. And while there is improvement in this life under the operation of the Spirit and the Word, the effects persist.
Taylor here prays that the effects of sin be lifted: rather than fog, “let thy sweet sun-shine.” The hope of this transformative effect is that he will be able to rework the poem and create something more worthy. The poem is losing glory, because it lost it ways.
Perhaps Taylor is referring to an earlier version of the poem which he destroyed. But based upon this being a persistent claim, in various forms, which is seen throughout his corpus, it could be just his difficulty at the beginning of the poem.
In the remainder of the stanza he brings up the method of this shining light. Since the poems were written in preparation for communion, the reference of “blood red wine” is to the wine of communion.
The nature of communion as a joy, while often not emphasized, is not absent from the ceremony. First, the Supper takes over for the Feast of Passover, which while in stressful circumstances also celebrates the escape from Egypt. Second, while the ceremony recalls the Lord’s Death, we also call that day “Good Friday.” Third, the ceremony recalls the Lord’s Death until he comes. The ceremony is based upon the Lord’s life and looks forward to the Lord’s return.
But there is another level of this image: He asks to have his “pipkin,” his small cup, is to be filled with wine. But in the last line, the image of “wine” is recounted as “fullness”:
Convey some of thy fullness into me.
“Fullness” is a reference to the fullness of grace in the moto for the poem, “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.” Thus, it is the fullness of grace he is praying to receive.
The pipkin is repeated in the fifth line of the stanza as an “earthen vessel”. The move to an earthen vessel may seem disjointed on the face of the stanza, but when we see the nature of the illusion, Taylor’s relationship makes sense.
Taylor is referring to 2 Corinthians 4:7, where Paul writes that “we have this treasure in jars of clay.” While the reference to clay has become a bit of a Christian cliché to refer generally to the weakness of human beings, Taylor picks up this image not merely as a form self-abasement, but because the passage relates to his twin themes in this stanza of fullness of Christ’s grace and light to drive away the fog.
The treasure Paul identifies is the “light of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The fuller passage reads as follows:
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
2 Corinthians 4:5–7.