ascension, Edward Taylor, poem, Poetry, prosody, Spurgeon, Treasury of David, View All Ye Eyes Above
The analysis of the previous stanza made be found here
Upon the wings he of the wind rode in
His bright sedan, through all the silver skies
And made the azure cloud his chariot bring
Him to the mountain of celestial joys.
The Prince of the Air durst not an arrow spend
While through his realm his chariot did ascend.
The entire poem concerns the Ascension of Jesus following the Resurrection. Jesus having been resurrected ascends to heaven as King of All.
The image is of Christ ascending through the air up to heaven in great power. Satan can see the ascent of Christ but cannot attack:
Romans 6:9 (AV)
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Upon the wings:
The allusion here is to metaphorical references to God coming in Judgment or great power.
Psalm 18:9–12 (AV)
9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. 10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. 11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. 12 At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.
The allusion is also to God unassailed power over all his creation:
Psalm 104:1–5 (AV)
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. 2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: 3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: 4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire: 5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
The mountain of celestial joys:
The place of God’s peculiar residing is sometimes referred to as “heaven” and sometimes as on a mountain. The allusion here seems in particular to be Psalm 24:
Psalm 24 (AV)
A Psalm of David.
1 The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.
This psalm is particular appropriate to Taylor’s poem because it concerns the Ascension of Christ, beginning in verse 7: The King of Glory coming through the everlasting doors.
Then follows the apostrophe: the prophet foresees the ascension of Christ and his saints into the kingdom of heaven. He sees his Lord marching at the head of the redeemed world, and conducting them into regions of honour and joy. Suitably to such a view, and in a most beautiful strain of poetry, he addresses himself to the heavenly portals. “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory,” with all the heirs of his grace and righteousness, shall make their triumphant entry; “shall enter in,” and go out no more.—James Hervey.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 1-26, vol. 1 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 382–383.
The Prince of the Air: Satan
Ephesians 2:1–3 (AV)
1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
The first line is the most interesting metrically
– ‘ – ‘ ‘ – – ‘ ‘ –
Up on the wings he of the wind rode in
Two observations: the accent on “he” coming after the accented “wings” brings a jolt and lays the attention fully upon the main character in the scene. Second, the unaccented “in” hurries the attention along to “His bright sedan”. The same effect is rendered in the third line which ends with “bring”.
In the fourth line, the rhythm slows. There is a long pause after of “mountain” created by normal mid-line pause followed by two unaccented syllables. The effect is to slow the scene as the King arrives at the mountain — with the emphasis falling last of all upon “joys”.
Satan then comes along in the couplet as an impotent enemy gazing in rage at his loss:
Colossians 2:15 (AV)
15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.