America's first great English-speaking poet writes on Christian symbolism ...

Edward Taylor's Poem on
"The Feast of Tabernacles"

Meditation 24. Second Series.

John 1:14 "Tabernacled amongst us."

December 25th, 1697, Westfield, Massachusetts.

by Edward Taylor (1642-1729)
Born in Sketchley, Leicestershire, England

My Soul doth gazing all amazed stand,
To see the burning Sun, with'ts golden locks
(An hundred sixty six times bigger than th'land)
Ly buttond up in a Tobacco box.
But this bright Wonder, Lord, that fore us playes
May make bright Angells gasterd, at it gaze.

That thou, my Lord, that hast the Heavens bright
Pav'd with the Sun, and Moon, with Stars o're pinckt,
Thy Tabernacle, yet shouldst take delight
To make my flesh thy Tent, and tent with in't.
Wonders themselves do seem to faint away
To finde the Heavens Filler housd in Clay.

Thy Godhead Cabbin'd in a Myrtle bowre,
A Palm branch tent, an Olive Tabernacle,
A Pine bough Booth, An Osier House or tower
A mortall bitt of Manhood, where the Staple
Doth fixt, uniting of thy natures, hold,
And hold out marvels more than can be told.

Thy Tabernacles floore Celestiall
Doth Canopie the Whole World. Lord; and wilt
Thou tabernacle in a tent so small?
Have Tent, and Tent cloath of a Humane Quilt?
Thy Person make a bit of flesh of mee
Thy Tabernacle, and its Canopee?

Wonders! my Lord, Thy Nature all With Mine
Doth by the Feast of Booths Conjoynd appeare
Together in thy Person all Divine
Stand House, and House holder. What Wonder's here?
Thy Person infinite, without compare
Cloaths made of a Carnation leafe doth ware.

What Glory to my nature doth thy Grace
Confer, that it is made a Booth for thine
To tabernacle in? Wonders take place.
Thou low dost step aloft to lift up mine.
Septembers fifteenth day did type the Birth
Of this thy tabernacle here on earth.

And through this leafy Tent the glory cleare
Of thy Rich Godhead shineth very much:
The Crowds of Sacrifices which swarm here
Shew forth thy Efficacy now is such
Flowing in from thy natures thus united
As Clears off Sin, and Victims all benighted.

But yet the Wonder grows: and groweth much,
For thou wilt Tabernacles change with mee.
Not onely Nature, but my person tuch.
Thou wilst mee thy, and thee, my tent to bee.
Thou wilt, if I my heart will to thee rent,
My Tabernacle make thy Tenement.

Thou'lt tent in mee, I dwell in thee shall here.
For housing thou wilt pay mee rent in bliss:
And I shall pay thee rent of Reverent fear
For Quarters in thy house. Rent mutuall is.
Thy Tenent and thy Teniment I bee.
Thou Landlord art and Tenent too to mee.

Lord lease thyselfe to mee out: make mee give
A Leafe unto thy Lordship of myselfe.
Thy Tenent, and thy Teniment I'le live.
And give and take Rent of Celestiall Wealth.
I'le be thy Tabernacle: thou shalt bee
My Tabernacle. Lord thus mutuall wee.

The Feast of Tabernacles makes me sing
Out thy Theanthropy, my Lord, I'le spare
No Musick here. Sweet Songs of praises in
The Tabernacles of the Righteous are.
My Palmifer'd Hosannah Songs I'le raise
On my Shoshannims blossoming thy praise.

Notes:
The Feast of Tabernacles (Tents) pictures the temporary nature of human existence, as exemplified by the Children of Israel dwelling in tents (tabernacles) during their 40 years wandering in the Wilderness. The Feast starts on the 15th of Tishri (roughly September.) Traditionally, the "tents" were made of palm and olive branches.

"Shoshannims" are lilies, particularly mentioned in the Song of Solomon.


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