Study Guide

Huswifery

by Edward Taylor

Huswifery Themes

Themes and Meanings (Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

A close reading of “Huswifery” suggests a variety of meanings for the central conceit of clothes making. In fact, the extended metaphors reveal an obsession with typology, finding theological meanings in ordinary events. Thus the coat or dress taken from Job 29:14 in the Bible can be seen as a symbol of righteousness. Other biblical referents include Psalm 30, where clothes equal joy, and Psalm 31:25, where clothes equal strength and dignity. Isaiah 61:10, however, offers the most specific parallel: Here the chosen is clothed in “garments of salvation and arrayed in a robe of righteousness as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.” This passage also invokes the New Testament reference to being clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27).

The robe, like Joseph’s coat of many colors in Genesis, is a symbol for being the chosen one of God and for having put on Christ’s flesh and His robe of blood through faith and baptism. The biblical associations with robes thus recall Jesus’ roles as prophet, priest, and king, all of which require a ceremonial garment. The associations also suggest a sacramental preparation for receiving the Lord’s Supper. Like several of Taylor’s preparatory meditations, “Huswifery” also implies the necessity to be clothed in Christ before approaching the eucharistic table.

A meditation, the form “Huswifery” takes, is a secret prayer composed of praise and...

(The entire section is 571 words.)