Beauty, Edward Taylor, Incarnate Son, Jesus, Meditation, Meditiaton, poem, Poetry, Praise, Psalm 45, Psalms, Puritan, Puritan Poetry, Song of Solomon, Song of Solomon 5, Thy human frame my glorious Lord I spy
Thy human frame, my glorious Lord, I spy
A golden still with heavenly choice drugs filled;
Thy holy love, the glowing heat whereby,
The Spirit of grace is graciously distilled.
Thy mouth the neck through which these spirits still.
My soul thy vial make and therewith fill.
Thy speech the liquor in thy vessel stands,
Well tinged with grace a blessed tincture, lo,
Thy words distilled, grace in thy lips poured, and,
Give Grace’s tincture in them where they go.
Thy words in Grace’s tincture stilled, Lord, may
The tincture of thy grace in me convey.
That golden mint of words, thy mouth divine,
Doth tip these words, which by my Fall were spoiled;
And dub with gold dug out of Grace’s mine
That they thine image might have in them foiled.
Grace in thy lips poured out as as liquid gold.
They make my soul, Lord, to it hold.
Taylor works the distillation of medicine (drugs, line 2) in a still as the basic conceit. The distillation process works on words from God which are heated by “holy love” and poured through and into the poet’s soul. The entire process is marked by Grace.
By grace (personified in the poem) Taylor means both the condescension of God to human beings to show and do them good. It means both the kind intention of God and the actual work of God in the human life to transform one into the image of God (Romans 8:29). Puritans often distinguished various elements of God’s work in the human soul as several types of grace. Such types of grace would be “drugs” which remedy the soul.
The need of Taylor stems from the fault of original sin, “my Fall” (line 14).
The imagery of gold alludes to both the pre-Fall world and the New Creation.
Taylor’s imagery derives from the Song of Solomon 5 (a description of the bridegroom by the bride):
10 My beloved is radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand. 11 His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven. 12 His eyes are like doves beside streams of water, bathed in milk, sitting beside a full pool. 13 His cheeks are like beds of spices, mounds of sweet-smelling herbs. His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh. 14 His arms are rods of gold, set with jewels. His body is polished ivory, bedecked with sapphires. 15 His legs are alabaster columns, set on bases of gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. 16 His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.
And Psalm 45 (which provides in part): [note, this Psalm is applied to the incarnate Son in Hebrews 1]:
1 My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. 2 You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever. 3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty! 4 In your majesty ride out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds! 5 Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you. 6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; 7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; 8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad; 9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.