By Jeffrey A. Hammond

ISBN-10: 051101807X

ISBN-13: 9780511018077

ISBN-10: 0521662451

ISBN-13: 9780521662451

Jeffrey Hammond's learn of the funeral elegies of early New England reassesses a physique of poems whose significance of their personal time has been obscured through virtually overall forget in ours. Hammond reconstructs the historic, theological and cultural contexts of those poems to illustrate how they answered to Puritan perspectives on a selected strategy of mourning. The elegies emerge, he argues, as performative scripts that consoled readers through shaping their adventure. They shed new mild at the emotional measurement of Puritanism and the real position of formality in Puritan tradition.

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Now he was dead, and at the very time when he was most needed. As the procession entered the burying ground, Taylor suddenly felt very old. Dewey reminded the Monuments enduring and otherwise  minister of his faithful charges during those early years in Westfield, after one of Dewey’s uncles had called him to the valley from Harvard. In those days believers longed with all their hearts to make a sincere profession of their faith, and Taylor could remember when many of them were harder on themselves than the Word required.

The privileging of reflection over reaction is a deep-seated critical habit. Over half a century ago Jantz, noting the power of “anachronistic criteria” derived from “romantic or modern standards,” commented that “for a person coming fresh from romantic poetry,” the anagram-based elegies popular in early New England will seem “dull, monotonous, and repetitious, just as a person acquainted only with melodic music can often derive no pleasure from the old contrapuntal music” (First Century ). Fifteen years later Roy Harvey Pearce argued for a “baroque decorum” in New England’s elegies, one based on “a sense, not of what is formally or artistically, but rather personally appropriate” ().

Our disappointment with Taylor’s poem for Deacon Dewey is sharpened, of course, by the enormous and longstanding prestige of the pas- Monuments enduring and otherwise  toral elegy, a form of commemoration strikingly different from those that issued from New England’s pens. One critic writing in the late s put the contrast this way: “To remember that while Puritan Milton was writing ‘Lycidas,’ his American coreligionists were composing acrostic elegies is to recall how provincial American Puritanism quickly became” (Waggoner ).

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