What is Edward Taylor asking God to do in "Huswifery"?

Expert Answers
cneukam1379 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Huswifery" is a classic Taylor poem in that it sets up a conceit, or an extended metaphor.  Throughout this conceit, Taylor uses first the parts of a spinning wheel and then the cloth spun with the thread from that wheel to ask God to use Taylor as an instrument for God's will.  

In the first stanza, Taylor asks God to use his "Holy Word" to charge Taylor's "Affections," "Soul," and "Conversation" with the will of God.  It is in this stanza that Taylor uses the metaphor of the spinning wheel to create the image of God spinning the wheel to create the yarn, or to create Taylor, which He will then use to create the garment in the second stanza.

In the second stanza, God becomes the weaver, and by weaving the yarn he creates a beautiful garment that is "pinked with varnished flowers of Paradise" (12).  With this garment, Taylor will be clothed with all of God's influence, thus making him an instrument for the will of God.

In the final stanza, Taylor asks God to clothe his "Understanding, Will, / Affections, Judgment, Conscience, Memory / [His] Words, and Actions" (13-15).  These are all the characteristics that, as a minister, Taylor can use to influence people and urge them follow God.  And it is through this action that Taylor will do God's glory.

edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Essentially, the speaker of the poem "Huswifery" is asking God to make him His instrument.  In the first stanza, the speaker uses imperatives to show God what he is willing to do for Him.  The speaker implores God to align the gospel, his affections, his soul, and his conversations with parts of a whole—in this case, the metaphor of a spinning wheel—so that he can become God's instrument.

In the second stanza, the speaker implores God to make him the machinery (a loom) on which He can build a more perfect version of himself; he wants God to metaphorically make him the fabric of faith.

In the final stanza, the speaker implores God to clothe him in the fabric of faith and to make him worthy in God's estimation. 

Huswifery is traditionally defined as the work of women in the house. A consideration in reading this poem is the question of whether Edward Taylor is casting a male speaker into the usually female role of the domestic realm, or whether the speaker of the poem is actually female. In either case, the speaker is asking God to help define a path to salvation.

droxonian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this poem, Taylor is literally asking God to "make me...thy spinning-wheel." In practical terms, what he is really saying is a variation on "please use me as your instrument."

Taylor elaborates on this theme, asking that the Bible be made "the distaff of the spinning wheel," or a support for the speaker, God's instrument, in his quest to do good. Taylor prays that his emotions should be "the part of the [instrument]" that makes it strong—not weaker.

In the second stanza, he asks God to "make me thy loom then, knit therein this twine." Here, the speaker asks God to help him make use of himself productively; he wants God to support him in doing God's work. Within the metaphor of the loom and yarn, God is the spinner and the weaver, but Taylor asks God to use him as his material so that together they can build a strong fabric—and a better world.

jamaicax1 | Student

In his poem "Huswifery," what is Edward Taylor asking God to do?