Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 328
I think one theme that must be discussed is the theme of faith and/or religion. The poem is a prayer of petition, and it clearly shows the speaker has a deep devotion to God. The poem also shows an understanding of things like Christian Reformed doctrine. The poem ends by saying that the speaker would like to be clothed in these amazing garments to glorify God. That is very reminiscent of question and answer number one from the Westerminster Confession of Faith. The idea of being clothed in an amazing robe of sorts is also quite biblical in that it should remind readers of Joseph's coat of many colors.
Despite being such a faith-based and God-glorifying poem, I do see a theme that highlights mankind's intelligence and ingenuity. The poem was written before the Industrial Revolution, so readers should not picture the big industrial-sized and mechanized looms that would have covered entire factory floors; however, the poem clearly points out how spinning wheels and looms have made the process of making thread and cloth much quicker. What is great about this poem is how it asks God to use these man-made inventions to create something that will eventually glorify God.
A third theme that I think is worth discussing is a theme about gender roles. I do not believe that Taylor was making any kind of political statement about what women's work should be; however, based on the poem's title, I do think it is accurate that Taylor's poem shows readers what work women did consistently do back then. Making cloth and clothes was something that women did. I feel that this poem actually honors that work. Taylor is using work done by a housewife to create something to ultimately honor God. He could have written a poem that focused on men and farming in the same way, but he didn't. The poem does a great job of both honoring God and the work that women do.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 571
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 petition. By using this form, Taylor acknowledges the complete sovereignty of God and the inefficacy of good works to attain salvation. He implores God to use him as a pastor and as a poet to spread the Gospel. The poet becomes a weaver of lovely cloth, Christ’s truth made more attractive in verse. As an artist, Taylor decorates theological images, utilizing speech as a cloth for constructing thought and English as a literary yarn to create a linguistic web of beauty. This writing image is also reinforced in the double meaning of the word “quills” (line 8), which indicates the inspiration of written verse by the Holy Spirit.
The transformation of wool into yarn and then into cloth and a garment also suggests a type of spiritual marriage. Here, putting on the robe suggests an assumption on Christ’s honor and accomplishments. At the marriage feast, Christ becomes one with Taylor, imputing redemption through the sacrament. This creates a mystic union, a close and personal relationship that Taylor desires to share with others. Taylor appeals to God to continue to robe him with the sanctification necessary to minister, the grace needed to attend the nuptial feast of Christ and His Church, and the forgiveness required to participate in communion. The analytic breakdown of the clothes-making process mirrors the achievement of a state of grace. It too is gradual and Christ-centered in its reliance on God to bring about conversion, motivate repentance, and offer divine grace.
Ultimately, the title not only reflects Taylor’s desire to parallel what he saw as a woman’s tasks of spinning, weaving, and sewing but also displays his goal of becoming the bride of Christ, integrated and perfected as both pastor and poet by the sacrifice of the Lamb. Taylor’s puns on “dye” and “die” as well as “pinked” (cut, or punctured as in the wounds of Christ) emphasize that the robed priest’s sacrifice satisfies God’s requirement for justice, at the same time pleading for His grace and for humanity’s salvation.
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